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Fhe Great toeVJoman 



Vol. 7, No. 3 Spring/Summer 1985 

^fT /The 
, Creatine 

Ionian Governors State University, University Park, IL 60466-3193 


ISSN 0736-4733 


Helen E. Hughes, Editor 

Joan Barchard Lewis, Managing Editor 

John Ostenburg, Editorial Consultant 

Suzanne Oliver, Art Director 

Janet Green Editorial Assistant 

Leda Lance, Typesetter 


Donna Bandstra, Social Sciences, Chicago, Illinois 

Margaret Brady, journalism, Palos Heights, Illinois 

Rev. Ellen Dohner Livingston, Religion, Unitarian Universalist Community Church, Park Forest, Illinois 

Rita Durrant, League of American Penwomen, Doylestown, Pennsylvania 

Carol Houlihan Flynn, Literature, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Woman's Studies, Governors State University, University Park, Illinois 

Helene Guttman, Biological Sciences, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland 

Young Kim, Communications Science, Governors State University, University Park, Illinois 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts, Hollywood, California 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania 

Emily Wasiolek, Literature, Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois 


3 Introduction by Helen Hughes 

4 Passing On of Mothercraft by Terri Schwartz 

7 Poetry by Sheila E. Murphy, Nico/e Marchewka-Brown 

8 On the Raising of Daughters by Lynn Thomas Strauss 

9 Poetry by Joan Ritly 

10 Poetry by Deborah Shouse, Christine Beregi, Sharon Dario 

1 1 Poetry by Marianne Andrea 

12 Women as Single Parents. . .By Choice by Linda Steiner 

14 When Is Human Life? The Abortion Dilemma by Ellen Dohner -Livingston 

17 A Call To Concern 

18 News and Views by Walter Feldman 

19 In Favor of Menstruation by Elizabeth Rose Campbell 

22 Poetry by Joan Lewis, Carolyn J. Fairweather Hughes 

23 Poetry by Christine Swanberg 

24 MOTHER by Catherine Scherer 
26 Threads by Beth A. Bailey 

29 Under The Ladder to Heaven, A review by Sesshu Foster 

31 A Refuge From Darkness, A review by Ursula Sklan 

34 Between Ourselves, Letters Between Mothers and Daughters, A review by Carolyn Carmichael 

36 Announcements 

40 Letters to the Editor 

41 Announcements 

43 Tangled Vines: A Collection of Mother &. Daughter Poems, A review by Joan Lewis 

44 Announcements 

45 Editor's Column by Helen E. Hughes 

The Creative Woman is published three times a year by Gover- 
nors State University. We focus on a special topic in each issue, 
presented from a feminist perspective. We celebrate the creative 
achievements of women in many fields and appeal to inquiring 
minds. We publish fiction, poetry, book reviews, articles, 
photography and original graphics. 

Cover photograph Topanga Canyon, California, 1979, by Cynthia 
MacAdams, from Rising Goddess, Morgan 6k Morgan, 1983 


In the past year, as we have collected materials 
for this issue, we have realized how troubled and 
troubling the relation between mothers and 
daughters has become. In times of transition and 
change, human relationships are vulnerable to 
the stresses and shocks that attend the times. 
The feminist movement means, above all, the 
freedom to choose one's lifestyle and one's 
values, one's goals and deepest purposes. Across 
generations, these choices may change. Yet, as 
Irene de Castillejo has pointed out, "Women of 
one generation and the next overlap. It is as 
though there were a continuous rope of posterity 
running down through the women. And for a 
young woman to think she can opt out and 
deliberately cut herself off from this is often to 
belie her nature and enslave herself in an 
abstract theory." 

There may have been simpler times than ours. 
Assembling this issue has convinced us that the 
bond is highly complex. We have pieces here 
that speak from the perspective of bewildered 
mothers and angry daughters. Our lead article 
by Terri Schwartz gives us her latest theoretical 

conceptualization of motherhood as a "craft." 
Lynn Strauss, associated with this magazine for 
five years, has written about raising her three 
daughters (and one son). Linda Steiner reports 
on her research with single mothers. Ellen 
Dohner presents her pulpit address on the tragic 
dilemmas of abortion choices, followed by the 
Christian Century's Call to Concern and Walter 
Feldman's comment on current biomedical 
ethics. We have a paean to menstruation and a 
short story by Beth Bailey on a suffocating 
mother-daughter relationship and the daughter's 
way of liberation. Catherine Scherer has put 
together a wondrous, startling, funny "poem" for 
Mother's Day in a form that is purely original 
and her own. Joan Lewis releases her youngest 
in "My Last Adolescent". And there are poems 
and book reviews to round out the issue. 

We welcome to our Advisory Council Professor 
Carol Houlihan Flynn of Tufts University and 
look forward to her advice on literature and 
criticism. As always, we solicit our readers' 




by Terri Schwartz 

Adrienne Rich's book Of Woman Born contained 
the exciting insight that much of what woman 
of the 50's and 60's had learned about being 
mothers grew out of a patriarchal institution 
that could, and in her eyes must, be distinguish- 
ed from the experience of mothering children. 
Her work stimulated a wave of writing about 
women and motherhood that helped women to 
discover the difference between their own ex- 
periences with their children and the institu- 
tionalized pressures to behave in specific ways, 
and to feel a virtuous pleasure in the depriva- 
tions and mortifications that so often accompany 
life with children. 

Several years ago in this Quarterly I wrote a 
paper about this new, feminist, vision of 
motherhoos, as it was then being written about 
by women who were as diverse as poets and 
psychoanalysts (which may not be that diverse 
at all). In that paper I raised an issue that 
sounded radical enough for me to believe that I 
had not abandoned the call of the 70's left from 
my student days— the idea that motherhood had 
an effect on mothers. To think about it as a 
developmental stage and to question whether 
die 'natural' response that women bring to 
motherhood couldn't introduce something new 
in the way of a vision of human relationship to 
lives beyond the nursery seemed a departure 
from traditional women's views of the value of 

The motherhood problem of the sixties had 
centered on the belief that women had no 
choice but to live out the Mystique. In the 
seventies, women discovered that while we no 
longer needed to give our all to our children, we 
should find a way to both give all they needed 
and still to seek ourselves in careers. 

When Adrienne Rich distinguished the institu- 
tion and the experience, she implied that the ex- 
perience was the source of the richness, the 
value of being a mother. It was easy to accept 
that we might be able to fulfill the visionary 
future she predicted; that "the tenderness, the 
passion, the trust in our instincts,. . ." would 
give hope and belief in a future of greater benefit 
to women and their sons and daughter. [233]. 

Her vision undoubtedly influenced the 
understanding that women could distinguish 
themselves in many phases of life without com- 
promising their sense of appropriateness. We 

have come to a time when we find Sally Ride 
and Christa McAuliffe in space, and Geraldine 
Ferraro contending for national office. These 
changes have helped us to sort out ourselves as 
women from the demands of the institution and 
to look back on our mothers as women trapped, 
perhaps, but not defined by the strictures of the 
institution that bound them. 

A new set of problems face the mothers of the 
eighties. Now that we know a lot of what we 
don't have to do for our children, we have sur- 
prisingly little knowledge of what they need from 
us. Today's mothers are more likely to face the 
problem of figuring out how to be a mother 
while lacking the guidance and support that 
come from the accumulated experience of other 
women— and to some degree that means, the in- 
stitutions. What is left to us, then, is to find the 
way of passing to our daughters accumulated 
understandings of the role of motherhood, or 
the requirements for doing the job well, without 
creating just another, more modern, set of ideas 
about how mothers must be. 

It seems to be a problem of some importance. If 
indeed the old institutions that had provided 
rules and expectations to women in their work 
with their own children have fallen away, leav- 
ing mothers free to look around and pay atten- 
tion to what they really experience with their 
children, they have also left many women 
without external guidance as to what they need 
to do for their children. It may be that in get- 
ting rid of the shackles that bound us to stove, 
crib and home, we are left to improvise. There is 
less of an internal sense that what we learned 
about the role of mothering from our own 
mothers is of much value for us. 

In its place, there seems to be a new distrust 
that prevents a woman from being able to rely 
on institutions or traditions to indicate what 
she, a newcomer to the successive roles of 
mother of infant, of toddler, of school aged child 
and teenager, must know, and to profit from 
learning what has been useful for others to do. 
In attempting to substitute for this lost support, 
women seem to have turned not to the ex- 
perience, not to a realization of Rich's visionary 
future, where we trust the lessons we get from 
our strongest experiences at mothering to in- 
fluence how we live in the world. Instead, it 
seems, we trust them less and seek for new struc- 
ture—we could call them institutions without 
tradition— to instruct us. One response to this 
need for guidance and knowledge has been 
called "the manager/mother". (Rubin, N. The 
Mother Mirror) 

The manager mother is the decider, the woman 
who, if she has money and privilege, organizes 
and selects from a variety of expert programs 
and experiences available to her children and 
who, if she is poor, struggles, arranges and 
makes do with what she can find and afford for 
her children's day. In either case this women 
must find a way to dispel her guilt and worry 
over not having the time and energy for deeper 
participation in her child's day. 

The idea of quality time has been a needed 
counteracting force against the 'maternal 
deprivation' ideology of the Freudian 50's when 
it was decreed that mother's absence from the 
lives of her children condemned them to severe 
trauma and disturbance. Nevertheless, there are 
problems with the notion that short "quality 
time" with children serves the same purposes as 
engagement with even an impatient parent on a 
'demand' schedule. Quality time with a parent 
is, very likely, an important, exciting part of the 
day for a day care or a latchkey child. The 
leisurely bath and bed-time can help to soothe 
parent and child, and to repair the stresses on 
the parent-child relationship wrought by a hur- 
ried day. But this kind of 'scheduled feeding' of 
attention carries with it risks that threaten the 
child's sense of security and control just as the 
rigid four hour feedings may have influenced in- 

and Her Child, 1947, Picasso 

fants of another generation. 

The managerial mother recognizes, of course, 
that her child's day should be filled with ex- 
periences that foster development, self esteem 
and learning. She looks for programs, services, 
day care settings that will provide quality. It 
seems that what the managerial mother is hop- 
ing to do is to substitute, for the informal but 
inexorable structure that surrounded women of 
the 50's and their children, new structures that 
will support her individual mothering of her 
children. It may bring a tremendous sense of 
relief to the managerial mother to be able to 
choose between programs and settings designed 
by experts for her children, freeing her from the 
awesome responsibility of knowing without 
drawing from the past, what her children need. 

Now that we must be "manager mothers" we 
choose and arrange the elements of a youngster's 
life without feeling the need to be the purveyor 
of hugs, cookies or dry diapers. It seems that in 
rejecting the institutionalized expectation that 
women with children must be present and in- 
volved, we must give up on the pleasure of the 
relationship, must become simply the adult 
assigned to organize and coordinate choices from 
a smorgasbord of child-rearing environments and 

David Elkind (The Hurried Child, Growing Up 

Too Fast Too Soon) has pointed out the stressful 
effects of overly directing and programming 
children's development. "To a certain extent," 
he says "hurrying children from one caretaker to 
another each day, or into academic achieve- 
ment, or into making decisions they are not real- 
ly able to make is a rejection. . .of what they are 
capable of coping with and doing", (p. 186). 

As I view the increasing pressures on families to 
substitute the settings and advantages for career 
success for simple care and nurturance of young 
children I am left with the sense that we are 
caught up in a dizzying rush toward the creation 
of new institutions that derive, not from the ac- 
cumulated experience of people in their family 
lives, but from a mix of professional expertise, 
good business sense and the accidental ar- 
rangements that working life requires. 

The risk involved in managing children instead 
of raising them, I think, derives less from the 
poor quality of the choices than from the fact 
that instead of being able to alter the demands 
of the workplace to include the needs of the 
children whose parents must earn a living, we 
have had to search for wife-like services from 
outside our homes. 

Thus, in seeming to respond to the separation of 
Motherhood— the patriarchal construct of 
Kinder Kirche Kuche— from our definition of 
ourselves as women, we seem instead to have 
separated ourselves from our experience and 
from our children. We assume, since not all 
mothering must come from a single person, and 
since what we may have learned of mothering as 
an act is suspect, there is nothing particularly, 
important about the person of the mother. 

If this is what we have come to, the idea that 
there is nothing of special importance in the per- 
son of the mother, and in her way of relating to 
her children, then we may have to question 
what collective experience we are gathering to 
pass on to our daughters. 

We will not regress to handing them the notion 
that a woman has to give her all to a child in 
order for the child to turn out reasonably well. 
But we can do well to remember Crete Bibring's 
observation of thirty years ago that while a 
child's need for its mother is absolute, the 
mothers need for the child is only relative. 
While this observation is usually cited as 
evidence that children cannot fulfill a woman, 
that a role in the outside world may do a better 
job, it serves also to remind us, and the 
daughters we raise, that the psychological 
demands they made on us as small children, 
massive though they loom in the child's eyes, 
and in our own childhood memories of sufficient 
mothering, were not after all that demanding on 

a well functioning adult. 

This insight is well illustrated, found in a 
wonderful experession coined by D. Winnicott, 
the British psychoanalyst. He spoke, not of 
ideal, nor even of excellent mothering, but only 
of mothering that is good enough. This phrase 
conveys Wihnicott's remarkable empathy with 
mothers in emphasizing that to be good enough 
is much less demanding than to be as good as 
we or the child can imagine. This kind of 
mothering is good enough, it satisfies, and leaves 
the child with the -sense of its having been there 
and with confidence that it will be provided 
when needed. 

The sense of object permanence, in the jargon of 
the psychoanalytic developmentalists, is just 
that— the sense of the constant availability of the 
mother — and not the fact of it. The busy, emo- 
tionally divided mother of the 80's can be 
reassured. The stable internalized presence of the 
mother— that is, the feeling "My Mommy knows 
what I need and keeps me from feeling too lone- 
ly or too scared or too little", once it's in place, 
demands little of the mother for its upkeep. 

Putting this feeling in place in our children is 
the challenge of motherhood in this, or any 
generation, and is one that is informed by 
remembering the importance of the mutual ex- 
perience that mother and child have of each 
other. Adrienne Rich wrote beautifully of the 
"pure pleasure of having [a] new creature. . .curl- 
ed against one's breast" (p. 12). Part of this sen- 
suality comes from the joy of being able to know 
that, to the contented infant, one has been good 

I believe that it is imperative that we pass on to 
our daughters experiences with us that allow 
them to feel the infant's half of that pleasure— to 
feel that there is someone special in their lives, 
someone who, in a good-enough way, was able 
to provide without being worn out by providing 
for her. Lacking this, I fear that mothercraft, not 
as skills and techniques, but as the empathic 
bond between generations of mothers, will give 
way to a set of instructions for choosing day 
care centers and educational games for children. 

Elkind, David. The Hurried Child. Addison 

Wesley, 1981. 

Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born, Norton, 1976. 

Rubin, Nancy. The Mother Mirror, Putnam, 


Schwartz, Terri. "On the Feminist Study of 

Motherhood", The Creative Woman, Vol. 3, No. 

4, Spring 1980. 

Ms. Schwartz is professor of psychology at GSU and working on 
her doctoral dissertation on attachment issues in children of bat- 
tered mothers. 



I have known women who bring a room of hope 
to life their eyes look into your soul 
without making you apologize. 

That room smells like flowers without smell, 
perfectly formed hibiscus resting in a juiceglass, 
seeming to live forever. 

The face I watch passing store windows at dusk 
speaking my language 
is not my mother's face. 

My mother is drinking plum wine from a 
thimble and smiles even the wallpaper reflects 
the redness of her hair. 

I refuse to become the woman who will die 
the moment I face a mirror filled with her 
magnetic kindness. 

I remain the perfect child, 

distant, self sufficient, 

protecting myself from sweetness. 

after wine, I stay conscious 

not to go into a deep sleep 

that recalls the speck of heaven 

falling, falling across my shoulders, 

a thick blue quilt about to smother me. 

Sheila E. Murphy 


my mother: 

wears the gowns of witches and holds balloons 

threateningly over my head. 

my mother: 

wears melting diamonds in her hair and rides an 

ocelot in circles around the attic. 

my mother: 

hides cheesecakes in the thick folds of her rus- 

sian sable and throws them to the street beggars. 

my mother: 

rips revelations from the bible and rolls it into a 

cigar and smokes it while her house burns to the 


my mother, 

you have stepped into the skin of a thirty year 

old and tucked my edges in around you. 

Nicole Marchewka-Brown 

Girl clasping her left knee, 1929, Henri Matisse 



by Lynn Thomas Strauss 

The experience of being a mother has been 
deeply satisfying for me. I feel an intense attach- 
ment to my daughters. I look toward their future 
with fear in the knowledge of all that threatens 
harm to them and with joy in anticipation of 
the unlimited possibilities of their lives. Some 
particular dangers as well as opportunities will 
come to them because they are females in a 
male-dominated society. Influences are at work 
in our culture to alter the traditional patterns of 
sex-role stereotypes and eliminate the inequities 
resulting from centuries of dominance of men 
over women. My children, daughters and son, 
will be affected by these changes. 

My husband and I have brought a feminist 
awareness to our childrearing. We have tried to 
model a relationship based on equality and 
mutual respect. We have been intentional in 
sharing child care, housework, and work outside 
the home. We have educated our children about 
the sexism that exists in our society and about 
the potential for change. We have tried to pro- 
vide non-sexist toys and books and an at- 
mosphere that will foster the growth and 
development of their fullest potential whether 
the interest was "feminine" or "masculine." 

I suspect that raising daughters from a non- 
sexist perspective in the 70s and '80s is easier 
than raising a son from that perspective. It is 
still more "okay" to be a competent girl who en- 
joys sports and aspires to be a doctor or scientist 
than it is to be a gentle boy who likes to play 
with dolls and aspires to be a nurse or social 

And, of course, whatever we attempt as 
parents, the outside influences of school, media, 
peer group, church and extended family are 
significant. For example, we had to help our 
daughter cope with her feelings when she was 
excluded from her close friend's fifth birthday 
party "because she's a girl." And we have to 
discuss why we don't want to purchase either 
"Barbie" dolls or toy guns. 

In spite of outside pressures, there is one way 
parents can exert influence over a young child's 
emerging self-image. Experience and observation 
lead me to suspect that parents and extended 
families unwittingly reinforce cultural sex-role 
stereotypes by describing their children with 
quick and easy labels at very early ages. Many 
families encourage certain behaviors by referring 
to kids as "daddy's little girl," "the tough guy," 
"princess," "the baby of the family," "the 

terror, etc. 

With our children we have tried to avoid sex- 
linked characterizations or negative messages by 
thinking of and describing our kids to ourselves 
and others in positive terms. Positive categoriza- 
tions can include "the independent one," "the 
out-going one," "the joyful one," "the musical 
one," "the communicator." Although any 
categorization is potentially limiting to the 
child's self-image— we can at least avoid negative 
and/or sex-linked identifiers. 

Exploring sexuality also has become an oppor- 
tunity for nurturing positive self-images in my 
daughters. We have tried to establish an at- 
mosphere of open expression and frank discus- 
sion of sexual issues in our home. Our kids seem 
eager to know about becoming teenagers — eager 
to grow up. Helping them feel good about their 
growing has sometimes required being specific 
about sexuality and being willing as parents to 
share our knowledge and our feelings. We have 
discussions about the relative advantages of hav- 
ing a penis or a vagina. We share a lively in- 
terest in the appearance of pubic hair, the 
growth of tiny new breasts, and we talk of possi- 
ble celebrations when menstruation begins. My 
daughters know something about birth control, 
the dilemmas of unwanted pregnancy, miscar- 
riage, sexual abuse, abortion and the joys of 
pregnancy by choice. Their interest in sexuality 
stems from a healthy curiosity about issues of life 
and death. Education in the home can de- 
mystify sex as well as sex roles. Perhaps if they 
view their bodies as well as their futures factually 
rather than romantically, they won't expect a 
"Mr. Right" to provide them with happiness 
ever after, but will become strong, independent 
and capable of making responsible choices in 
their lives. 

We also talk frequently with our daughters 
about the opportunities and choices they will 
face as they grow up. When they speak about 
wanting to travel to Europe some day, we are 
careful not to say, "Then be sure to marry a rich 
man," but to say instead, "Then be sure to 
prepare for a good-paying job." When they talk 
of the age at which they expect to be married 
and have children, we suggest that they don't 
necessarily have to get married or become a 
parent but can choose other life paths. The 
messages in our society about family life, sex 
roles, sexuality and growing up are varied and 
often confusing for young people. Hopefully the 
open, loving relationships that we work to main- 
tain within our family, and the intentionality 
with which we behave as parents, will guide our 
children through a stable adolescence to a 

healthy happy young adulthood. 

Our children have sought a level of interaction 
and intimacy with us that has enabled us to be 
fully human beings with them as well as nurtur- 
ing parents. We trust that they will, with all 
people, continue to seek that level of human in- 
teraction that bridges the gaps of generation, 
race, authority, sex, class and sex roles. 

Ms. Strauss is a freelance writer in Oak Park, Illinois. She was 
managing editor of TCW from 1979 to 1983. 


On nights like this 

I remember mother's soup: 

the butcher's best bone 

and chunk of meat shredded, 

boiled, seasoned, 

corn cut from the cob 

in mid-summer, canned 

against winter, 

beans snapped, 

peas unpodded, 

tomatoes long-cooked 

and strained towards this kettle, 

mother's stubby fingers 

imbedded in noodle dough 

to the gold wedding ring, 

the noodles egged and rolled, 

carefully sliced 

and lifted to the broth, 


as the memory itself. 

Joan Ritly 

■ • :; : "■' ' : 


'/ ' 7/ 


Robe high above the knees 
Clare slumps in her wheelchair, 
A sack of solitude. 

Mouth mourning, fingers curled, 
She stares, oblivious, 
A ragged old lady 
Lacquered with loneliness. 

I stop to touch her: 
Clare, I say, Hello Clare, 
And like a shiny dime 
In the autumn gutter/ 
The surprise of her smile. 

Deborah Shouse 


(who all these years has hated poetry) 

Now, in her late age, 

she begins to write, to say: 

the red brick wall is poetry, 

the lilac bush, arrayed in fragrance, 

the young girl 

huddled behind the garage 

playing hide-and-seek with the neighbor's dog... 

she who at last leaps laughing at the fence 

letting her face be licked 

by the pink, ecstatic tongue. 

This is poetry. 

And the taste of the fence 

on the dog's tongue. 

And hands moving in a kitchen window. 

They were my own hands, 

my own dark window. 

Christine Beregi 


Though the tears were invisible 

in the newspaper photograph: 

my mother, at 40, 

ministering to a child 

pitched and bruised 

under a Plymouth fender; 

it was on the morning that 

my father hit the stucco 

with his fist until 

the plaster fell off; 

and a crack slunk up the wall; 

and she'd put her suitcases down 

by a door she would never walk through. 

Sharon Dario 



Near the pond the woods are green 

even at dusk; 
but oaks, maples and the corner elm 

rage in celebration. 
Mallards brush tops of purple sage, 

two deer edge by 
and vanish into dark that folds 

like a black fan. 
My yearlings munch grass, 
touch shoulders, 
suddenly necks arch - expecting rain. 

I take my cue about the rain 

and bring three logs inside. 
By midnight - water thunders 

in Wagnerian crescendo. 
By four A.M. the sound spills 

into air I almost taste. 
In half sleep from private visions 

I see pines beckon to the deer 
whose long necks flecked with rain 

stretch to drink. 
I see them all, although the pond 

is on the down side 

of the hill. 

Marianne Andrea 


"Of what is past, or passing or to come..." 
W.B. Yeats 
On the walk to the river 
where the road loses itself 
in yellow grass and cattails, 
apples long fallen 
lie in sweet-acrid scent 
plucked to the core 
by late jays. 

Suddenly - 

you walk toward me, 

face full of dusk, 

arms full of surprises. 

You drop your gray cap 

on my head, hot bread in my hands, 

and we embrace like new lovers. 

The moments are crowded 
but time is thin as a wafer 
before night pushes us into a corner. 
I am stubborn and stave it off 
with my bare hands, until 
our shadows merge. 
But then - it's never time 
for the dead to leave. 

Marianne Andrea 




by Linda Steiner 

Gossip column tidbits about unmarried 
Hollywood actresses who have chosen to have 
children imply that these women are selfishly, 
capriciously, and foolishly renouncing traditional 
family structures. 

This image does a profound disservice to a cer- 
tain group of single women who, as they move 
into their 30s and early 40s, decide that they 
cannot afford to wait any longer for "Mr. Right" 
before beginning a family. True, it appears that 
increasing numbers of middle class professional 
women, aware of the ticking away of the 
biological clock, are choosing this route. But it is 
not fair to characterize this as a carelessly 
adopted "fad." This is proven by an examination 
of the decision-making undertaken by women 
who elect to have children, even when they are 
not married. 

The single woman's decision to have children 
generally is made only after considerable agoniz- 
ing. The would-be single mother may take 
months, even years, to judge if having a child in 
such circumstances would be morally correct: if 
it would be right for the child, right for her. A 
woman may accept the notion that parenting 
can occur outside marriage, just as sex can occur 
outside marriage, but she must also evaluate if 
she wants to have children for the "right" 
reasons — not because she is unhappy or lonely 
or thinks children will solve her problems but 
because — having done the travelling or the 
"wild" things of her youth— she is ready and 
happy to settle down and devote herself to 
parenting. Then she must also determine if she 
has the emotional and physical resources to han- 
dle having children on her own, if she has the 
financial resources, if she will receive the 
necessary help from employers, friends, relatives. 
She may consult with social workers or physi- 
cians, with friends, with other single mothers; 
she may attend meetings of support groups for 
single mothers. 

Once that decision is made, she must decide 
whether to conceive or adopt. If she wants to get 
pregnant, should she try artificial insemination? 
If not, who should father the child? If adoption 
seems preferable, should she go through a 
foreign or local agency, or should she work 
through the "gray market?" In some cases, the 
answers to that first set of questions influence 
the answers to the second set. But either way, 
these ethical, personal, professional, and strategic 
commitments are not made casually. 

Most single mothers concede that two caring 
parents, who love each other and their children, 
are better than one: better for the children, bet- 
ter for the parents. But single mothers quite 
sincerely believe that, as the children of single 
mothers, their children did not and will not suf- 
fer significant trauma. Their children, the 
mothers argue, are better off, at least in some 
senses, than the children of divorced parents. 
These single mothers are at least prepared for 
single parenting, they had expected it; their 
children have not been caught up in divorce and 
custody battles. 

Indeed, some research suggests that, for some 
single women, in certain circumstances, choosing 
to have children is not an unreasonable course 
of action. It can work for the single woman who 
really wants to have children, who can afford to 
relax a bit at work, who is fairly independent 
and self-confident (but who recognizes when she 
needs help or time to herself, and can get that 
help and time to herself), who is flexible and 
realistic about mothering, and — finally getting 
down to brass tacks — who has adequate financial 

It is worth noting, on the issue of "mothers 
and daughters," that a majority of those single 
women who actively chose to have children 
believed that rearing daughters would be easier 
(or better) for them than rearing sons. They ex- 
pressed preferences for daughters; some "natural" 
as well as adoptive mothers were a bit alarmed 
when they hear, "It's a boy!" Apparently they 
had assumed that (1) boys need, more than girls, 
male role models, and (2) as single mothers, they 
would be hard pressed to provide male role 

What they found was that both sons and 
daughters need male role models. Both need to 
see, know, and trust men. But while some of the 
children enjoyed fairly close relationships with 
their biological fathers, few fathers maintained 
active parental roles over time. Therefore, single 
mothers also encouraged their own fathers, 
brothers, or close male friends to be actively in- 
volved with the family. Often these men were 
eager to do so. The mothers also sought out day 
care centers, schools or extracurricular activities 
with male teachers. 

It also is worth noting that the entire sequence 
of events brought changes, for better or worse, 
in the relationship of these women with their 
own mothers. Not surprisingly, many of the lat- 
ter were not wholly enthusiastic when the 
former announced their decisions. (Mothers 
were, on the average, less supportive than 
fathers.) But once the baby arrived, the great 


oak bent— if only this once — for the acorn. The 
grandmother's help was often crucial, especially 
in those first few months. The thrill, the joy, the 
satisfaction — as well as the occasional panic and 
anxiety — of caring for a new baby brought 
mother and grandmother closer, enriching their 
own relationship and enhancing their mutual 

Ms. Steiner is professor of journalism at GSU and the author 
(with Sharyne Merritt) of And Baby Makes Two, Franklin 
Watts, 1984. 




by Ellen Dohner-Livingston 

I have been keeping a file on the abortion dilem- 
ma for over ten years but have been putting off 
coming to grips with the subject in a worship 
service. Like most people of our political and 
religious persuasion I am pro-baby, pro-life, and 
pro-choice. I have a reverence for life that is so 
ferocious it extends even to the spiders that live 
in my bathtub and the moths that find their 
way into my living room on a summer night. I 
have a deep constitutional aversion toward 
violence in any form — I will not spend my 
money to support violent movies or allow 
violent TV shows into my home. I am appalled 
at the signs I see of decreased respect for all liv- 
ing things, impoverished human relationships 
and the insensitivity to killing off entire species. 

With that preamble, my experience with the 
abortion debate has been both theoretical and 
personal for many years. When I first became in- 
terested in educating people for family planning, 
I dismissed the alternative of abortion as too ex- 
treme, too traumatic— physically and mentally— 
for all concerned. But that is one of the many 
things I have had to change my mind on in the 
last fifteen years. My first-hand experience with 
the abortion choice has included working with 
the chaplain as an abortion counselor for the 
Clergy for Problem Pregnancies, back when it 
was still illegal. Chaplain Claude Evans started 
the group in Dallas, thus putting his career with 
the Methodist church on the line and maybe, 
given the zeal of his detractors on that issue, 
even his life. His leadership was expert and in- 
spiring. He told us that the reason he supported 
the choice for abortion was that he did believe 
in reverence for life. 

So I counselled women who came to my house 
in North Dallas, faced with problem pregnancies 
and when the Supreme Court did decide that 
abortions were legal, I worked as a chaplain at 
Parkland Hospital. I ministered to women and 
their families who were having saline and pro- 
stoglandin procedures — which means in the se- 
cond trimester of pregnancy. If this were a per- 
sonal essay I would go into more detail about 
the reasons why women have abortions, the 
physical and psychic pain they experience, the 
sense of relief some of them feel when it is all 
over — plus my occasional indignation with some 
for their callousness about the whole thing. 
Perhaps denial is their way of adjusting. All in 
all, the abortion unit at Parkland Hospital was a 

difficult place for moral clarity or durable con- 

The doctors were there to do a task finally 
legalized, and be paid well for it; the nurses were 
often bewildered, hostile, even militantly un- 
cooperative about the procedure. The patients 
and their families were there to get it over with 
as quickly and painlessly as possible, then escape 
to the familiar world of home and work and to 
get on with their daily lives. I often wondered 
what my place was in this dance of clinical 
routine and denial and guilt and sometimes self- 
inflicted suffering. I could only hold their hands 
and look compassionately on, while fighting my 
own internal conflicts. In other words, I do not 
know where to fit the reality of my experience 
with abortion patients or my knowledge of em- 
bryology or theology into any tidy moral or 
logical equation. I could only be there with the 
people who chose to go through it. I can only 
struggle with you this morning concerning this 
singularly human event. 

There is no issue I can think of for which there 
is no right answer, and no other issue so packed 
with emotion as is the abortion perplex. Both 
camps for and against choice are laden with 
emotion. The "pro-life" people have been known 
to terrorize abortion clinics — set fire to them in 
the name of Christian ethics. The abortion 
choice is both a sadness and a requirement. 
Abortion is an abomination unless it is ex- 
perienced as a human event of great sorrow 
and terrible necessity. The only thing ab- 
solute about abortion is the absolute necessity 
that it be available to people in our society. 

The core of the perplexity for me is that we do 
not know when that fetus becomes human: 
there is no clear-cut single immutable definition 
of when a fetus becomes a person in the sense of 
having a right to legal status. Some say it is at 
quickening at about 3V2 months, some say it is 
when the fetus becomes viable at about 6V2 
months. Even a moral theologian at my 
seminary admits that "there is a lot of 
metaphysical cant and theological emotionalism 
about the start of human life that cannot stand 
scrutiny." Some scientists even state that a baby 
is not a human until he or she is born and is 
acted upon by other humans— the neonate 
develops as a human only in relation to other 
humans. I accept the theory that the moment of 
human conception brings about a possibility, a 
potentiality that may go on to become a human 
person. Human personhood is a matter of 
development, not instantaneous magic. And 
remember that some conceptions turn into em- 


Double portrait (Mme. Juan Gris), 1914, Henri Matisse 

bryological monstrosities that are made up of 
flesh, skin and hair but in no way resemble 
human form and can even bring fatal disease to 
the mother. 

Carl Sagan in Dragons of Eden helps me to 
understand the importance of prepartum neo- 
cortical activity in deciding when the developing 
embryo' becomes a human being. The term 
"right to life" is an excellent example of a buzz 
word designed to inflame rather than illuminate. 
There is no right to life in any society on earth 
today. . .We raise farm animals for slaughter, 
destroy forests, pollute rivers and lakes until no 
fish can live there, hunt deer and elk for sport, 
leopards for their pelts, and whales for dog food; 
entwine dolphins, gasping and writhing in great 
tuna nets, and club seal pups to death for 
"population management." All these beasts and 
vegetables are as alive as we. What is protected 
in human societies is not life, but human life. 
And even with this protection, we wage 
"modern" wars on civilian populations with a 
toll so terrible we are, most of us, afraid to con- 
sider very deeply. . The key practical question is 
to consider when a fetus becomes human. . .The 
reason we prohibit the killing of human beings 
must be because of some quality human beings 
possess, a quality we especially prize, that few or 

no other organisms on earth enjoy. It cannot be 
the ability to feel pain or deep emotions because 
that surely extends to many of the animals we 
gratuitously slaughter. 

The essential human quality, I believe, can only 
be our intelligence. If so, the particular sanctity 
of human life can be identified with the develop- 
ment and functioning of the neo-cortex. We can- 
not require its full development, because that 
does not occur until many years after birth. But 
perhaps we might set the transition to humanity 
at the same time when neo-cortical activity 
begins, as determined by electroencephalography 
of the fetus. Some insights on when the brain 
develops a distinctly human character emerge 
from the simplest embryological observations. 
(Up until four months the brain resembles that 
of fish and amphibians.) Very little work has 
been done in this field to date, and it seems to 
me that such investigations could play a major 
role in achieving an acceptable compromise in 
the abortion debate. 

"But a consistent application of these ideas must 
avoid human chauvinism. If there are other 
organisms that share the intelligence of a 
somewhat backward but fully developed human 
being, they at least should be offered the same 


protection against murder that we are willing to 
extend to human beings late in their uterine ex- 
istence. Since the evidence for intelligence in 
dolphins, whales and apes is not at least 
moderately compelling, any consistent moral 
posture on abortion should, I would think, in- 
clude firm structures against at least the 
gratuitous slaughter of these animals. But the 
ultimate key to the solution of the abortion 
debate would seem to be the investigation of 
prepartum neo-cortical activity." (Dragons of 
Eden pp. 195-197) 

I do not think the people who are proposing an 
amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting 
abortion are interested in the scientific study of 
fetal development— when it becomes a human 
being beyond the fish or reptilian stage. I 
seriously wonder whether the two sides of the 
argument even listen to each other. So far the 
debate consists only of competing bumper 
stickers. I for one will believe their bumper 
stickers when they read: "Abortion is murder, 
Capital Punishment is murder, War is Murder, 
Neglect of the Poor is Murder." 

As a woman, I cannot help but resent the fact 
that it has always been the male legislators and 
doctors and priests who tell women what they 
can do with their bodies. It now looks as if the 
Republican Party is using the whole thing for 
their political advantage. The same men who are 
so punitive about abortion being murder have 
been decorating each other for expertise and suc- 
cess in the arts of killing in combat for centuries. 

I wonder if the people who are so intent on sav- 
ing human lives take into consideration that 
abortion related deaths have plunged in the past 
several years concurrent with a nationwide in- 
crease in the availability of safer, legal abortion 

To me abortion is often the lesser evil in service 
of the greater good. The ethics are muddled. 
However, there is a crystal clear ethical im- 
perative against exploitation of women's fertility 
for others' political purposes. Giving women 
control over their own bodies is the first step in 
preventing such exploitation. 

A group of Christian clergy and seminary pro- 
fessors have taken out an advertisement publish- 
ed in several magazines under the title "A Call 
to Concern." You may have seen it. All five of 
their points echo my moral convictions on the 
subject. I am speaking on this subject because I 
am alarmed at the absolutist position that 
leaders of our society have taken on personal 
relative issues. I have spoken on the dangers 
from the extreme right for the same reason. I re- 
ject the chains with which church and society 

have bound us with so tightly. They were forged 
out of ignorance, poverty, cant, threat, guilt and 
coercion. As Thomas Jefferson said, "I have 
sworn uon the altar of God, eternal hostility 
against every form of tyranny over the mind of 

The greatest source of evil in life is the absolutiz- 
ing of the relative. The anti-choice people's stub- 
born dogma does not have a noble vision of 
human personality because it looks no further 
than the zygote — the fertilized egg at conception. 
To me, one of the most penetrating comments 
on the abortion question comes from a devout 
and devoted Roman Catholic Sister, Rosemary 
Mayer. She wrote, "We are either life-givers or 
death-dealers. Giving life means sharing our 
goods and lives with those who need them. 
Women seeking abortions need our love and 
resources, not our marches and rhetoric. They 
don't need our Christian preaching at that time; 
they need to experience our Christianity. All too 
often we are dealers; we kill the babies after- 
wards. We kill with our righteousness, our 
platitudes, our easy answers, our insensitivity, 
our attitudes. . ." Sister Rosemary has touched 
on what has been the tragic flaw in the anti- 
abortion stand. The question is: Where do we 
kill those who don't meet our standards; in the 
womb or in the ghettos, in the womb or in our 
closed neighborhoods and schools, in the womb 
or in our careless talk and cultural slurs, in the 
womb or in our economic policies and 
unemployment lines, in the womb or in our 
prisons and research labs, in the womb or in our 
wars of competition and greed? 

Sister Rosemary continues — "If we choose life we 
must choose it all the way and for everyone. If 
pro-life efforts are aborted after a child is born, if 
quality of life is not guaranteed along with life is 
the sin less deadly?" 

As I said earlier, I think that the choice for 
abortion is, must be, a difficult one. The enemy 
is neither those for nor against choice; it is deep- 
ly embedded in the human condition. In the 
end, what is most sacred is the integrity of the 
human mind which has the ability to choose 
whether to abort or not. I respect both choices. 
Abortions are an example of our vulnerability. 
They are heart rending, ambivalent events of ab- 
solute necessity. And meanwhile we too, those 
of us who are for choice, are also pro-lire. We 
have the right to appropriate the red rose as a 
symbol of the unfolding beauty of life and the 
nurture it receives from human beings who care 
about it. 

Rev. Livingston is the minister of the Unitarian-Universalist 
Community Church in Park Forest, Illinois. 


A Call to Concern 

The increasing urgency of the issue of abortion rights 
requires us as teachers and writers of religious ethics 
to speak out. 

Abortion is a serious and sometimes tragic procedure 
for dealing with fetal life. It raises important ethical 
issues and cannot be blandly legitimized by the mere 
whim of an individual. Nevertheless, it belongs in 
that large realm of often tragic actions where cir- 
cumstances can render it a less destructive procedure 
than the rigid prolongation of pregnancy. 

We support the Supreme Court decisions of 1973 
which had the effect of removing abortion from the 
criminal law codes. The Court did not appeal to 
religion or ethics in arriving at its judgment, but we 
believe the decision to have been in accord with 
sound ethical judgment. Taking note of the fact that 
theologians, as well as other experts, disagree on the 
fundamental moral question of when life begins, the 
Court decided that the law ought not to compel the 
conscience of those who believe abortion to be in 
harmony with their moral convictions. 

In the last four years, however, those decisions have 
been subjected to a relentless attack from those who 
take the absolutist position that it is always wrong to 
terminate a pregnancy at any time after the moment 
of conception. Those who take this absolutist posi- 
tion have not hesitated to equate abortion at any 
stage of pregnancy with murder or manslaughter. 
From such an extreme viewpoint, all legal means are 
considered justified if they limit abortions, no matter 
what the human consequences for poor women and 
others — as in the recent efforts to deny Medicaid 
funds and to prohibit use of public hospitals for abor- 
tion services. 

We feel compelled to affirm an alternative position as 
a matter of conscience and professional responsibility. 

1. The most compelling argument against 
the inflexibility of the absolutist position is 
its cost in human misery. The absolutist posi- 
tion does not concern itself about the quality of 
the entire life cycle, the health and well-being of 
the mother and family, the question of emotional 
and economic resources, the cases of extreme 
deformity. Its total preoccupation with the status 
of the unborn renders it blind to the well-being 
and freedom of choice of persons in community. 

2. "Pro-life" must not be limited to concern 
for the unborn; it must also include a con- 
cern for the quality of life as a whole. The 

affirmation of life in Judeo-Christian ethics re- 
quires a commitment to make life healthy and 
whole from beginning to end. Considering the 
best medical advice, the best moral insight, and a 
concern for the total quality of the whole life cycle 
for the born and the unborn, we believe that 
abortion may in some instances be the most lov- 
ing act possible. 

3. We believe it is wrong to deny Medicaid 
assistance to poor women seeking abortions. 

This denial makes it difficult for those who need it 
most to exercise a legal right, and it implies public 
censure of a form of medical service which in fact 
has the moral support of major religious groups. 

4. We are saddened by the heavy institu- 
tional involvement of the bishops of the 
Roman Catholic Church in a campaign to 
enact religiously-based anti-abortion com- 
mitments into law, and we view this as a 
serious threat to religious liberty and 
freedom of conscience. We acknowledge the 
legal right of all individuals and groups, both 
religious and secular, to seek laws that reflect their 
religious and ethical beliefs. But the institutional 
mobilization of Roman Catholic dioceses, in- 
cluding massive financial contributions by those 
dioceses to the National Committee for a Human 
Life Amendment, is inappropriate on this issue. If 
successful, it would violate the deeply held 
religious convictions of individual members and of- 
ficial bodies of many other religious groups about 
when human personhood begins, the relative 
rights of a woman and a fetus, and responsible 
family life. This is particularly a problem when 
there is no clear majority opinion on these fun- 
damental issues nor an adequate social base of 
consensus for legitimate and enforceable legisla- 

5. We call upon the leaders of religious 
groups supporting abortion rights to speak 
out more clearly and publicly in response to 
the dangerously increasing influence of the 
absolutist position. There may be some 
ecumenical risks in such candor, but those risks 
have already been assumed by those who have 
pressed the absolutist position on religious 
grounds. In the long run, the true test of 
ecumenical authenticity is the ability to sustain 
dialogue and friendship in spite of very sharp 
disagreements on matters of substance. 

from The Christian Century 




by Walter Feldman 

The public consensus regarding when it is moral, 
merciful, and just to forego providing life sus- 
taining medical treatment and care to those who 
are terminally ill or diagnosed as having a great- 
ly diminished quality of life is only beginning to 
develop. This is a life or death issue that deeply 
divides caring, well-intentioned people and will 
continue to impinge on the nation's political 
process until it is resolved. At issue is not only 
who lives and dies, but who should decide. This 
is not a question of cost benefit calculation, but 
rather depends upon what is regarded as moral 
and merciful. These agonizing decisions are 
primarily moral. They are intensely personal. 
They should be made on an individual basis by 
the people most intimately involved, by those 
who love the individual whose life is at stake, by 
those whose lives will be changed by the deci- 
sion. This is not an area for government in- 
terference. It should remain in the sphere of in- 
dividual consideration and private conscience. 

About twenty years ago, Andy Warhol predicted 
that everyone in America would someday be 
famous for at least 15 minutes. Flagpole sitters, 
marathon dancers, channel swimmers, and 
human flies have achieved such status. Today, 
the top performers are not athletes, contest win- 
ners, or statesmen, but patients. Barney Clark, 
Baby Fae, Baby Doe have achieved celebrity 
status, not as performers, but as recipients of ad- 
vanced medical technology. Barney Clark was a 
superstar for 112 days, Baby Fae achieved a 
record of twenty days. Presently, Bill Schroeder 
occupies the limelight. The media tells us about 
his taste in beer, his choice of basketball teams 
and his difficulties with the social security 
system. Today, it seems that every new medical 
advance must come complete with a press kit, an 
articulate patient, and a willingness to appear on 
talk shows. 

We are now in an era of celebrity medicine and 
we obtain our medical information spiced with a 
shot of media hype. The result is celebrity status 
for individual patients, publicity for the specific 
researchers and often increased funding for well 
publicized projects. 

Meanwhile, thousands, if not millions, are dying 
often unnoticed of readily preventable condi- 
tions. Lost in the hullabaloo are the low profile 
daily struggles for significant prevention and 
care. While the artificial heart fills the headlines, 
medicaid is being reduced, community health 
programs are being cancelled, infant mortality 

rates are rising and thousands, if not millions, 
are dying of malnutrition and diarrhea. 

The media has effectively created a split between 
the celebrity of the few and the anonymity of 
the many. We are encouraged to applaud the 
few who survive and to ignore the millions who 
do not. 

Dr. Feldman is Medical Director of the Mecklenburg County 
Mental Health Authority in Charlotte, North Carolina. 





by Elizabeth Rose Campbell 

The first time it happened, I was in Bible 
School in Weldon, North Carolina, on the se- 
cond floor of the Methodist Church educational 
building, listening to Dozen Pierce say that God 
knew how many hairs were on everybody's 
head. I wondered if he knew why my stomach 

It started out like a warm moist fist in the bot- 
tom of my belly clenching and unclenching, and 
everytime it unclenched, I felt a warm wet 
release. Was I wetting my pants? Even though 
I'd heard about menstruation, and knew it 
would happen to me sooner or later, I never 
associated this pain with it. 

I never said a word to Dozen Pierce, sat there 
and decided I was dying of appendicitis. Walking 
home later, I thought of my funeral, fantasized 
about eulogies. ("Such a short life she lived.") In 
my own bathroom, I found the blood, was 
momentarily relieved, and then annoyed. 
Thirteen-year-olds don't like anybody, even a 
mother, explaining about Kotex or tampons or 
the greater implications of it all; at least I didn't. 
I was at the age where I wanted, most of all, to 
be left alone. I was alarmed by my body's "com- 
ing of age." More was happening on emotional 
levels in one week than I had dealt with over 
many months in preadolescent years. My skin 
started to break out. I decided I had a problem 
with "nerves" because I started perspiring heavi- 
ly in a way I never had before. My tomboy chest 
developed bulges that I hid, shoulders humped 
over, chest caved in as much as possible. I just 
wasn't ready. 

My mother and I had "the talk." I don't 
remember what she said but she showed me how 
"the belt" fit, and Kotex fit into the belt, and I 
was repulsed, felt like a baby with a diaper, and 
what if someone should see? She said it was 
something to celebrate, and the next morning I 
knew she had told my father because he kissed 
me and said "congratulations, now you're a 
woman," and put flowers by my place at the 
table, and I just wanted to drop through the 
floor. So much for gratitude for a remarkable 

For years I kept no records, but knew I was 
"regular," knew I had "premenstrual syndrome" 
sometimes, was more irritable and easily upset 
right before I "started," and basically found the 
whole thing an annoyance created by a biology 
that was an embarrassment at best. And I used 
the first day of cramps as an excuse to stay 

home from school. True, I was often in pain and 
perpetually groggy when losing a lot of blood, 
but staying in school and seeming "out of it" in 
study hall meant one of the older boys might 
crack, "Wha's wrong wid you? On the rag?" 

In my twenties, out of college, in a rural set- 
ting with an introspective lifestyle, I began to get 
to know myself in some ways for the first time. 
Sexually active, I began to notice a lot of dif- 
ferences in the ways my mate and I operated. He 
was "ever-ready," like a charged battery sexually. 
I had tides of sexual energy that peaked around 
fourteen days after the first day of bleeding. 
Then it receded and sexual approaches towards 
me during the lowest ebb of sexual energy 
around days eighteen to twenty-five were usually 
met with disinterest and a confusion of guilt, 
denial that my cup wasn't running over, and 
evasive withdrawal covered by the explanation 
of my cycles, which sounded like an excuse 
because it felt like an excuse. I wasn't at that 
time prepared to let other people be responsible 
for their own disappointed expectations. 

Years later, living alone, the cycle became 
clearer, less foggy, but simultaneously mysterious 
as different strains of energy emanated from me 
at different times of my cycle. Physically healthy 
and disinclined to deny or change these inner 
weathers without good reason, I attempted to 
label them without the help of any outer 
authority or bias. And I came to accept that 
what I perceived was not "my imagination." It 
was who I was, perhaps similar to other women's 
cycles, perhaps uniquely me. And I began to 
wonder what would happen if I let the original 
impulse of these tides direct my life more. This 
keeps changing, as I keep changing, but right 
now, this is how it works for me: 

Week One: First day of bleeding. Physical 
sense of release. Cramps are painful depending 
on whether or not I can work with what's hap- 
pening, or have to "cope" in an alien environ- 
ment for a woman with a remarkably busy 
uterus and cervix, releasing its riches to the 
earth ideally, but in our sanitary world, more 
often into a toilet or "protective shield" or ab- 
sorbent tampon. It's a landmark; it means my 
life, my eggs, are marking time, and the shed- 
ding is no loss, nor is it dirty, but creates a void 
for a new beginning, the true month for me. 

I enjoy setting aside the first several hours of 
bleeding if I can, even the whole day, to respect 
this rite of passage, to re-evaluate the prior 
month, in particular the last week before I began 
to bleed, when "the harvest" was ripening, in 
my writing, my life, my relationships, when I 
was most challenged in dealing with the outer 
world, from the point in my cycle when I was 


most "inner." How did I negotiate that? Did the 
turning inward of that time reach an ap- 
preciative realm or did I fall into conflict with 
every tug from the outer world? What do I want 
to do with the rising energy of the upcoming cy- 

But before I think of all that, I melt, lie still, 
face down, body folded over knees, and con- 
solidate my extraneous notions of being a 
woman into one wordless throbbing ache that is 
like the stoking of a furnace deep inside, hot and 
silky and moist. I like to groan, not because it 
hurts but because the sound helps me not think, 
helps me dive deeper to the bottom of this 
beginning and ending, find the ocean floor of 
fertility and feel what I find there. 

Week Two: The bleeding has stopped. With 
typical human amnesia of one season, I move in- 
to another, becoming more extroverted and 
energized to gather experience, absorb the outer 
world, meet it head-on like a healthy horse at a 
hurdle. My social life often peaks as Week Two 
progresses. Around day 10 or 11,1 begin to get a 
distinct taste in my mouth (undiscernable if I'm 
in a cigarette smoking or distracted phase) that I 
can describe as "chemical." I have a maximum 
of charisma and ease in every situation, and flirt 
with the world at large, not as a seductress, but 
because I'm pleased with my potential, want to 
share the wealth. I am fertility itself. 

Sensitivity is heightened no matter what I 
touch — a leaf, an old blanket, a cat, the palm of 
a human hand. I see the best in everyone, and 
want to merge with it, marry it, bear fruit. No 
wonder babies are conceived then. 

For a long time I never correlated a sharp sud- 
den needle-like pain in my side with an egg pier- 
cing a fallopian tube. And then I began to 
count, to keep track. Right ovary. Left ovary. 
Right ovary. Left ovary. They take turns, like lit- 
tle partners, laying these precious eggs. What 
had seemed clinical and far removed from my 
life in high school text books suddenly seemed 
like a miracle. And a miracle with unexpectedly 
practical benefits. The year I waited tables I 
noticed that during ovulation my tips went up 
at least 20 percent. True, I was at my most ex- 
troverted, but I also suspected that on some 
primeval level or through a subconscious sense 
of smell, these other creatures were picking up 
on my power, my fertility, and applauding it. 

Week Three: "Reality descends." I have seen 
the Goddess in me, heard her laughter, watched 
her dance. (I can dance with an instinctive grace 
and burst of syncopated energies during Week 
Two that leaves me under the brief illusion that 
I invented dance.) 

If my euphoria and flexibility during Week 
Two originated on a mountain peak, a point 

On the threshold, 1912, Edith Woodman Burroughs 

from which I could see in every direction and 
act as hostess of the universe at large, then 
Week Three requires that I step off my throne, 
move down towards specifics, the nuts and bolts 
of my life, and see my shadows and missteps, the 
fine grain of an enlarged photograph. 

Week Four: By Week Four, I have turned 
still further inward. Like most modern women, I 
can't retire from the outer world, but I can coast 
through it with a clear understanding of my 
resources, my limits, my cycle's agenda. My ra- 
tional mind takes a back seat and the intuitive 
takes a front seat. My limbs are a little heavier 
and I have a slightly decreased digital dexterity 
due to water retention (if you type a lot you 
notice these things). It isn't unusual for me to 
hunger for long hours alone now. My usual pas- 
sion for conversation is replaced by simple ap- 
petites for the elements: wind, water, fire, the 
earth. But who can sit by a fire for a week? I 
can't. With a less focused verbal ability, less 
linear thought patterns, I fake intellectual clarity 


if I have to, and if I'm relaxed, may start a 
sentence and not finish it unless reminded to do 
so. Out to lunch? Not really. "Gumpy" is what I 
call it, when I'm least computer-like, mentally ef- 
ficient, and more like a walking time bomb of 
gut feelings eager to pop out like uncensored 

I don't make important decisions at this time, 
or enter into contracts or agreements with the 
outer world if I can help it, because I'm more in- 
clined to change my mind immediately after- 
wards. Instead I witness what is unresolved in 
my life, watch my nocturnal dreams in par- 
ticular, where, on an inner timetable, the most 
repressed and mysterious parts of my psyche 
steam with significance in a way they do not at 
any other time of my cycle. 

If I'm pushed into an unusually active role in 
the waking world that cuts me off from this in- 
ner agenda, I'm more inclined to react, rather 
than respond, to any conflict or pressure, 
because my emotions have taken on a piercing 
quality, as if they are being magnified from some 
deep and deliciously painful but pleasurable 
place, like a good itch. Depending on my self- 
care, I either express that magnified ability and 
sensitivity with voices of insecurity and easily 
hurt feelings, or with a poignant appfeciation of 
everything that happens. 

Often I feel an urgency, a rising tide of release, 
a sense of "this has to come out," this unfer- 
tilized egg, or the unresolved opportunities bub- 
bling up, or the creative idea that won't keep 
forever. Some of my most creative hours have 
been in this period, because it is the time when 
the temptation to doubt is strongest, with the 
rational mind submerged, the unharnessed emo- 
tions racing like a swollen river of purpose. And 
then it starts again, the bleeding starts like a 
deep autumnal signal to let go of leaves, the 
limbs of the trees that create the jungle of my 
psyche are bare again, and the life force begins 
to quicken around yet another seed, and I feel 
glad to be female. 

(Editor's Note: The above was published in 
The Sun, Chapel Hill, N.C., in Fall 1983.) 




I sit chummily with her watching the late 
night videos (it's 2 a.m.), displaying more in- 
terest than my own mother could have ever 
mustered. 1 am the recipient of bare tolerance, 
also beyond my mother's ability to tolerate. My 
expectations? Less defined, certainly, than my 
mother's — living as we do in such an uncertain 
age-flux. While I am vividly aware of the road- 
mines amongst which my youngest daughter 
picks her way through adolescence, I have pro- 
bably invested more and expect less from this 
relationship than a ten or fifteen year younger 
self would have ever dreamt. Two children have 
preceded this "baby" into adulthood. Ah, ex- 
perience. A sobered (at times jaundiced) self is 
considerably more conservative a dreamer. 

She is fifteen. I remember fifteen. How it feels 
and tastes. Fragile revolt into a hostile world. 
And mine, in retrospect, seemed so much kinder 
than this generation of fledglings will ever find. 

Spikey, furry-headed creatures belt out their 
grievances on slick, soap opera style videos. Lots 
of steam, cleavage and haute couture. Unisex, 
multi-sex, sexy sex — a smorgasbord that has to 
confuse and titilate the uninitiated or reinforce 
their sense of awkwardness. 

She watches blankly (I am reminded of a tor- 
toise); the inscrutable prisoner trapped in the 
presence of the philistines. No emotion will 
betray her vulnerability, her youth. This is her 
turf, her world into which I may blunder at my 
own risk, wearing my ignorance and advanced 
age like a leper's bell. 

As in childbirth, the pain of bearing 
adolescents is forgotten with their successful ar- 
rival into adulthood — or perhaps is replaced 
with new, overbearing concerns appropriate to 
parenting the "young adult." So the discomfort 
is new all over again, although she is my third. 
The scabs of past squirmishes (and miserable 
failures) bleed afresh. I approach that same stor- 
my vale with unprejudiced eyes: the hopes, the 
love, the innocence of being mother in their un- 
critical pre-teen eyes rises unchecked. And I 
know my past mistakes were honest, loving 
ones. Perhaps experience has ameliorated the ig- 
norance of a novice. 

I love my children; I have learned from them. 
The fruits of my labors are now coming to 
bloom, and so I will continue, not always 
flawless or patient. But I love her as I loved 
them — only more so. For she is the last. 

Joan Lewis 


Her mouth machineguns my stomach. 

Words rip flesh 

in a clean, pock-marked pattern. 

My palm seals lips 
as I try to swallow 
the rising nausea. 

Her fingers keep 

squeezing the trigger. 

The loads rivet my windpipe. 

I gasp for air, 
and gulp only gall. 
But she does not let up. 

With a smile, 

she blows off an arm, a leg. 

I stumble and fall. 

She cannot bring herself 
to shoot out my eyes 
with their soft look of love. 

Pumping the rest of the round 

into the wall, 

she stamps upstairs, 

slams her door and explodes 
to the frenzied rhythm 
of electronic sound. 

Carolyn J. Fair weather Hughes 



I can tell by the way it rings 

hesitant and domineering 

it is my mother. 

She says Are you going to the hospital? 

I say After I ride. 

I feel bristles through the earpiece: 

bad energy: life isn't real 

unless you suffer 

or are immensely bored. 

one rides one's horse 

after doing one's duty. 

She says Oh. 

Oh as in you're selfish. 

Oh as in you're weird. 

Oh as in you're an escapist. 

I want to tell her why I ride: 

to get my soul on straight. 

I want to tell her it is good: 

to trot beside the goldfinches 

that scatter from the fences, 

to balance while beneath you 

the horse races flushed ahead, 

to know how to jump logs 

and the comfort of old leather, 

to have strong thighs, 

to know the names and places 

of egrets, nuthatches, and herons 

and when there will be trillium 

near the river, 

to seek the fox and fawn, 

to gather rosehips and camomile 

when the stalks are dry, 

to make horsetracks in the snow, 

to ride a buck, 

to fall off and get on again, 

to know something of Pegasus 

and the nameless sound 

that glides through wheatfields, 

to return home high on clover 

and glow with sun and wind. 

That this is embracing not escaping 

Orne -Tho, 


Christine Swanberg 






From Latin through Greek, Phoenician and 
ultimately Egyptian, in which the hieroglyph 
represented an owl. 

Many mothers live in deep forests, far from men. 
Others are more sociable. They live in barns. My 
mother has never lived in a church steeple. From 
early times men have considered the mother 
mysterious, with her round and saucerlike eyes. 
My mother has a weird and screeching call that 
sounds especially in the silent night, continuously 
from midnight until one or one-thirty, when her 
mate returns from his job, and continuously from 
four-thirty until six, when she leaves for the day's 
hunt. Thus the mother is sometimes a frightening 
bird, for she is an excellent hunter and kills 
many mice and wee things lost in dreams, as well 
as many pestish ambitions, especially in females. 
My mother cannot see well in the dark, but 
hunts me on moonlit nights. Her soft downy 
feathers make no sound until she swoops down 
on me and swallows me whole. Later she brings 
up my bones in the form of little pellets. 

Some say the mother as we know her is a 
mythological bird. I suspect this is true. My 
mother is a myth to herself, and my mother's 
mother, with her patient endurance of an 
alcoholic husband (for the sake of the children) 
Ought to be a myth. The owl-mother was once 
considered very wise. The Hazelton High year- 
book for 1927 considered her "a great mind." But 
she discontented herself producing birds of a 
feather and feeding them on toasted marsh- 

From Latin through Greek and ultimately from 
the Egyptian picture for the eye. 

My mother is an eye, which is very much like be- 
ing a camera. She collects and makes a record of 
light as it bounces off objects, such as her 
daughter. My mother the eye is set in a deep 
bony socket in my head that protects her from 
being hit. On the outside she is an eyelid which 
protects her from too much inlight and from 
small things that might fly into her. The under- 
side of the eyelid is moist, to wash away tiny 
hurts with the fluid called tears. This is decep- 
tive. For a strong, tough layer, known as the 
sclerotic coat, covers the past as well as the pre- 
sent front of my mother. On the front it is 
transparent, meaning I can see through it to the 
parent underneath. The lens by which she blurs 
events is fluid and called the aqueous humor. It 
helps her keep her shape, for without it 1 fear she 
would collapse like a balloon without any air in 
it. The black part at her center is a hole in her 
memory. It is controlled by tiny muscles and gets 
larger or smaller to allow the right amount of 
correct memory through. In a disturbing light, 
the black hole becomes defensively large. Inside 
her a crystalline solid that also gets larger and 
smaller when pulled by necessary ligaments; this 
lens is clouded and helps her to look into the dis- 
tant past or at things as near as her "good 
daughter." Filling up space which would other- 
wise be empty is more "humor" fluid, this time 
called vitreous humor. On the back wall of my 
mother is a retina, composed of millions of nerve 
endings, called rods and cones, which has col- 
lected all the lightwaves from 75 years of living. 
The cones have recorded colors and shapes, the 
rods have recorded movements, many of them 
violent. In the center of the retina is a spot-for- 
best-vision, which she uses to focus on me. Below 
this spot is another called the blind spot; much 
of me overflows onto this spot and is not seen by 
her at all. My mother seems to see many things 
upside down much of the time. When' I was a 
baby brain I learned the habit of putting things 
rightside up again and making the correction, so 
it is now automatic. 

This may be a trick of the light, for about one 
out of four young people have some sort of 
mother trouble, and. about three out of four peo- 
ple who are over 30. Some troubles of this kind 
can be corrected (see the separate article on 
GLASSES). Proper protection of mothers is 
necessary; do not make a bad habit of staring or 
looking down on your mother, for if you do this 
for several years your muscles and lenses may get 
set one way and you will lose your ability to 
refocus when you get more distance from your 

From Latin through Greek, Phoenician, and 
ultimately hieroglyphics, representing a lasso. 

Expertise with the lasso 3 is handed down to all 
mothers by oral tradition. For the most part my 
mother uses the standard lasso, 60-feet, which is 
about as far as a mother can throw a rope. She 
has been known to use the short tether (25 feet) 
and the long rope (110 feet), which is just enough 
rope for a daughter to hang herself. Lasso is used 
as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it means 
a mother's saddle rope (in the house the lasso is 
worn around the waist to tie an apron in place); 
it has an eye or slipknot (the honda) through 
which the rope is run to form the loop. The most 
popular lasso is made of Manila hemp (actually a 
fiber produced from the wild banana tree), in- 
troduced from the Philippines by a US Navy 
mother. Once a year my mother buys a large roll 
of Manila hemp rope from the nation's oldest 
and largest manufacturer, the Plymouth/Rock/ 
Cordage Co. in Plymouth, Massachusetts. 
Whenever a lasso becomes limp and lifeless from 
hard use, she cuts another from the roll, ties a 
honda in one end, and stretches it between two 
medium-sized children to remove the kinks. Then 
she conditions it with petroleum jelly and paraf- 
fin to make it water and tear proof. My mother 
also favors the traditional braided rawhide lasso; 
it quite satisfactorily wears a mother's fingers to 
the bone and is an excellent binding rope. 
Mothers use five basic catches: the pitch, slip, 
heeling, backhand (or underhand) slip, and 
forefooting. The pitch is generally used by a 
mother on foot to catch a coralled daughter. The 
loop is spread out behind and partially hidden by 
ample skirts; the mother then moves forward and 
with a single movement pitches the loop over the 
daughter's head. The slip catch is similar. A heel- 
ing catch is used by a mother on horseback to 
catch a running daughter by her legs and drag 
her to the branding fire. A backhand slip is used 
to catch a daughter who is running behind her 
mother trying to catch up. In the forefooting 
catch, the mother on foot swings a large loop 
above her head while waiting for the unsuspec- 
ting daughter to place herself almost directly op- 
posite the mother. At that moment, the mother 
turns and rolls the loop in front of her daughter. 
The daughter literally walks or runs into the loop 
and is pulled up short. Another useful catch is 
the hoolihan, a fast, small loop designed for a 
head catch. Half a dozen mothers using this 
catch in a crowded place can rope their 
daughters without alarming them. It is quick and 
quiet. A skillful roper like my mother can make a 
large flat loop stop, stand up, roll to the left, roll 
to the right, and turn over in quick succession. 
One observer termed this throw "deadly." Such 
large loops are necessary to get over the horns of 
a full grown daughter. These big flat loops are 
called "Mother Hubbards" in honor of these 
skillful practitioners, mothers. 


)UND FOR MOTHERS DAY by Catherine Scherer 




rom Latin through Greek and ultimately from 
gyptian, the hieroglyph representing fence. 

:nce, v. I.t. 1. To enclose with or as with a 
nee; 3. To ward off danger or attack from; 
cure or protect, defend. II. i. 1. To practice 
ith a foil or sword; 2. To strive in any way by 
ving and avoiding blow, literally or figuratively. 
;nce, n. 1. An enclosing structure of rails, 
ckets, wire, maternal flesh, or the like; 3. The 
;e of weapons in self-defense. 

he moth&r as fence 4 comes in either hotdip 
ilvanized fabric (which has a heavy zinc coating 
| weather resistance) or the longer lasting vinyl 
)ated fabric, which blends beautifully with 
3me or lawn. Indispensable for younger 
lildren, it will also keep the largest, strongest 
lildren securely enclosed, no matter how 
ngrateful. Reasonably safe, may have sharp 

| ' Fencing 2 is also a contest between mother 
id daughter who use swordlike rods or sharpen- 
I tongues to touch each other and to keep from 
;ing touched. It is both a sport and a way of 
ghting. The best part about fencing is the way it 
:eps bigger opponents from hurting smaller, 
nee speed and wit is often more important than 
rength. The weapons used are called foils 
lence the sport is often called foiling), or foibles, 
he foil looks like a sword but its point is like 
le head of a nail. The object is to foil, v. t. 1. 
o baffle or frustrate; defeat; 2. In hunting, to 
in across and thus spoil (a scent) so as to baffle 
le mother hound. In fencing, both mother and 
aughter wear masks and thick skins to keep 
om getting hurt. They try to touch each other 
i some vulnerable spot. Two other weapons are 
sed in fencing, the epee, a narrow satiric weapon 
ith a sharp point, and the sabre, a heavy one- 
iged sword. The epee is a quick thrust and 
:treat weapon favored by daughters. The sabre 
a hacking weapon resorted to by mothers 
hose edges have dulled. In fencing mother and 
aughter stand facing each other, right foot for- 
ard. The point of the foil is aimed right bet- 
een the eyes, and the handle is used to parry, 
lat is, push or beat aside the other's point. Each 
tovement in fencing has a name; the body of 
le fencer is marked off in quarters, numbered in 
rench. This system was invented by Italian 
lothers, who fence fast and hard, and use the 
)rearm to back up the foil. The French took up 
:ncing from the Italians but worked out a more 
jbtle attack, using wrist and fingers for greater 
eception. There is also much fencing in 
vmerican homes. 

The usual route through Latin, Greek, Phoeni- 
cian and Egyptian hieroglyphics. In music, the 
third tone in the natural scale, the fifth in the 
minor. E is for Equator. 

My mother is the equator 5 personified. She is an 
imaginary line girded about my waist. Because 
she is a Great Circle, she is the shortest distance 
between any two points. You might think the 
shortest distance is a straight line, but you can- 
not draw a straight line on a globed mother, 
because her surface is curved. 

If you stretch a string around a mother as tightly 
as you can, you will see that the nearest thing 
you can get to a straight line is a great circle. My 
mother, the equator, is the largest of the 
parallels, as in "like mother like daughter," and is 
designated as latitude O . She is a unique circle 
on my sphere, a fundamental reference line for 
measuring the position of a daughter anywhere 
on the globe. She defines the cardinal directions, 
east and west. If I as a daughter imagine myself 
to be a pole apart, automatically a circle at right 
angles to the maternal plane of the equator is 
generated that re-orients me to my mother. 
These lines are called meridians of longitude and 
are spun out of herself by the spiderlike Equator- 
Mother. They can be produced in any number 
and can pass through any point on the earth's 
surface. They define the daughter directions, 
north and south. The maternal equator is fun- 
damental in determining weather (highs, lows, 
troughs of depression) and the ocean currents 
and countercurrents. This is because there is fre- 
quently a high moisture content in the air that 
masses around the mother; there is an enormous 
reservoir of energy in this latent form. This 
energy powers the most formidable of 
storms — the mother as cyclone, a highly charged 
and unstable air mass, often raging many nights. 
Another distinctive feature of equatorial weather 
is the penetrating power of maternal tongues of 
cold polar air. These tongues are known as polar 
outbreaks. While the warm maternal climate of 
the equator promotes rank growth in firstborn 
plants, the soil base is of the Oxisol type. This 
means limited amounts of nutrients are stored 
very close to the surface. My mother was a hand- 
me-down, much worn, leeched and dominated by 
my brother. Under fraternal stress, equatorial 
mother-soil breaks apart and is capable of 
hardening to a rocklike material, known as plin- 
thite from the Greek p/inthos, brick. The rivalry 
keeps sibling poles apart, with the equator balan- 
cing precariously midway between. 

From Latin through Greek, Phoenician, and 
ultimately Egyptian. The hieroglyph represented 
a mouth. 

My father called my mother's mouth the oral 
cavity, n. A hollow or sunken place, a dark hole. 
In her mouth he was often bounced against the 
hard palate as she chewed him. Her teeth broke 
his stoicism into small pieces that could be 
swallowed, but without nourishment. In her old 
age she lost her bite and craved softer food. 

Their tongues became coated with moist velvet 
and they were a bland diet for each other. My 
mother still retains the ability to soften hard and 
resistant wills with a constant flow of saliva and 
words — several pints of saliva daily and quarts of 
words secrete from her lips. She gums gum and 
spits habitually to encourage the flow. The bot- 
tom of the mouth is the seat of Mother Tongue, 
which controls many of the sounds we make. All 
the world is on the tip of that Tongue, from 
lullabies to nursery rhythms to fairy stories to 
nonsense syllables. The Tongue is pliant and the 
words within it numberless. My mother's Father 
Tongue was a ventriloquist, from Latin venter lo- 
quor, belly speak. He could make his dummy sing 
"Grandfather's clock stood 90 years on the 
shelf." My mother can make her children's words 
say what they never meant. She makes them say 
"love" when they want to say "anger." It's an in- 
herited gift of tongues only the blessed have. My 
father was a Strong Silence hiding behind a 
closed mouth. My mother always hid in plain 
speaking, in a rush of words like a dam breaking. 
In old age my mother's tongue has become at- 
tached to the past of her mouth. I distrust her 
glibness that runs in a circle chasing its tail. 
Maybe this is a suspicion inherited from the 
Silence. Is six more or less than a half dozen? 

1. Letters were found in Funk & Wagnall's College Standard Dictionary of the English Language (New York ek London, 1926). 

2. Unless otherwise noted, articles were found in The Illustrated Home Library Encyclopedia (Great Britain ck Philippines, 1955). Volumes were 49', with $5 purchase, at AckP during 
1956-57. For the times when you want to know less rather than more. 

3. Found in David Dary, Cowboy Culture: A Saga of Five Centuries. (New York, 1981). 

4. Found in Montgomery Ward, Summer Values Catalog (Letter Y), good through August 27, 1984, pp. 342-345. 

5. Found in Arthur N. Strahler ck Alan H. Strahler, Elements of Physical Geography, (New York, 1979). 




by Beth A. Bailey 

When Root Sampson's Dad had to hand over 
the family nursery business to his son, people 
were naturally curious about Root's young wife. 
He brought her home from college one spring 
day and planted her in the old Sampson house 
amid all the hustle and chaos associated with his 
father's leaving for Florida. People found out 
pretty soon that Root's timid wife was the sort 
of woman you couldn't make sudden moves 
around, and it was several weeks before she 
would go anywhere without Root. And even 
then her small frame and dark clothing made 
her difficult to spot. 

Estelle Sampson didn't appear to make friends 
easily. As it turned out, she never made any 
friends at all. When anybody tried to make 
small talk with her in the market, she'd panic 
and hurry down the aisle, pushing against the 
cart as if it were filled with lead. Her homemade 
clothes were precise, but heavy, with lots of 
thick stitching. She was an efficient, careful 
seamstress, but overdid the topstitching and 
used elaborate flat-felled seams in the thick 
dresses she wore. A coarse, orange rubber band 
kept her black hair in a severly disciplined bun 
and she had an air of old age, with a face that 
stuck out like a pale bowl. 

Estelle Sampson's armor-like dresses were 
almost as famous as her garden. Although she 
could make just about anything grow, her green 
thumb was not as fascinating as the way she 
organized her garden. Virtually every flower, 
tomato plant and bean sprout was attached to a 
stick with colored threads. Whether it needed it 
or not, each plant was laced to a wooden 
bayonet in the ground. The multi-colored 
threads made a psychedelic spider web that 
became a trap for any unsuspecting rodent or 
household pet. More than once somebody's dog 
or cat had to be rescued from the maze of sticks, 
threads and vegetables. One thing for sure, 
Estelle's garden never needed a scarecrow. Once 
she found a dead blue jay tangled in the red and 
green threads that held the rose bushes prisoner. 
After cutting it loose, she retied the rose bushes 
and solemnly buried the bird with the bright 
threads still attached. It wasn't long before birds, 
pets, and people learned to steer clear of Estelle 
and her queer garden. 

Not long after they took over the nursery, 
Root and Estelle had a daughter named Rose, 
who grew up wearing the same thick, double- 
stitched fabrics made into heavy little dresses. 
As soon as her hair was long enough, Estelle 
slammed it into a tight ponytail that accentuated 

Rose's pink face and distant look. But Rose's 
hair was too thin and elusive to be kept back for 
long. It was always slipping out onto her paper 
as she peered closely at her school work. She 
was a good student, but didn't have many 
friends. Her mother's reputation kept her from 
most social events, but people generally accepted 
Rose for the quiet and polite girl that she was. 

The town became accustomed to the eccentric 
Mrs. Sampson, but occasionally a story would 
circulate that would re-kindle old suspicions. 
One full-moon night, Estelle was seen running 
methodically around and around her own 
house. After circling the house and garden three 
or four times, she went back inside. People 
thought Estelle Sampson had finally slipped over 
the edge. She had actually run a single crimson 
thread around the house several times. In the 
morning when Root left the house, he heard 
and felt the soft twang of the threads as they 
snapped against his body. He had spent the 
previous evening trying to talk her into moving 
to a larger house closer to the nursery. He knew 
Estelle well enough to read her threaded 
message, her final word. She would never be 
uprooted again. 

As Rose Sampson grew older, her father began 
to pay her for helping out at the nursery, and 
she discarded the heavy dresses her mother 
made. She began to appear, in light, store-bought 
dresses that emphasized her newly shaped, slim 
figure. Her hair fell out of its bondage so often 
that eventually she let it hang free. Throughout 
high school she became less timid, and while she 
had a few good friends, the house threading 
story lingered enough to give her a respectful 

About the time that Rose was accepted to a 
small eastern college, loose threads began to ap- 
pear on various parts of her clothing. In the 
beginning, they were fairly inconspicuous. Like 
the short brown thread attached to her leather 
purse, or the black one trailing from the strap of 
her dark shoes. But gradually, the threads 
became louder and longer. The red thread 
dangling from the belt of her white skirt could 
be seem from across a room. When a friend 
pointed out a white thread tied to the ring of 
her notebook, Rose snapped the thread and 
sighed. "It's just my mother. She doesn't want 
me to go away to school." She said this as if it 
could be easily understood by everyone. She had 
grown up with her mother's threads and knew 
as well as her father how to decipher their 

Estelle's threaded hints reached a frenzy as 
Rose's last year of high school drew to a close. 
During the summer after graduation, the 


vacuum cleaner had to be repaired three times 
to remove the loose threads that clogged its 

On the morning of her departure for college, 
Rose heard the familiar soft snap of thread 
breaking as she opened her bedroom door. She 
gently fingered the thin blue thread that had 
been connected to the stairway bannister outside 
her room. She experienced a twinge of guilt as 
she felt the thread release its feeble hold. More 
and more threads had been appearing in her 
path — silent pleading that tried to keep her in 
one place. Estelle had never been an openly 
possessive woman, but it was clear that she was 
not prepared to deal with her daughter's leaving. 

Downstairs, Rose heard her mother's machine 
racing in the sewing room. She tiptoed past the 
door and found her father outside, con- 
templating the garden. Its complicated tangle of 
bright threads supported and strangled the bud- 
ding plants. It looked like a crazy quilt without 
the fabric. Rose stood beside her father and 
frowned at the garden. 

"Mother must realize that I can't stay in this 
house for the rest of my life. Why won't she at 
least talk to me about it?" 

Root Sampson looked fondly at his daughter 
and absently pulled a long green thread from the 
button hole of her blouse. He too, had noticed 
his wife's attempts to tie Rose into place. He 
played with the green thread, wrapping it tightly 
around his index finger until the tip turned 

"Your mother spent her childhood being 
uprooted from one military station to another. I 
guess she's trying to make up for that by keeping 
everyone in place. Don't worry about her. She'll 
survive. . .we'll both survive." 

He smiled and handed her the green thread 
which Rose rolled into a tight wad as she walked 
back into the house. She went directly to the 
sewing room. When she heard the machine 
pause, she knocked and entered. Her mother 
was bent over the machine making new curtains 
for Rose's bedroom out of a thick, coarse brown 
material that would keep out all sunlight. Rose 
had always found it difficult to breath in this 
small, musty cubicle, and rarely came in. There 
were half-finished projects lying everywhere in 
thewindowless room. The ironing board was 
hidden underneath crackling paper patterns. 
Rose stumbled on a spool of thread as she ap- 
proached, then sat on a small stool covered with 
assorted heavy wools. The tiny light from the 
machine barely lit her mother's gray face. Estelle 
stopped sewing and focused on Rose in the dim 
light. She came to the point quickly but gently. 

"Mother, please don't make me feel guilty for 

Rose watched her mother fiddle nervously 

with the dark fabric while her eyes darted into 
the corners of the dark room. Suddenly, Estelle 
brightened and said, "Hey, I've made a present 
for you." Rose slumped on the stool, but hoped 
the gift was meant to be some kind of going 
away present. Estelle swept away some patterns 
from off the cedar chest and brought out an in- 
tricately embroidered sewing basket. It had 
crocheted fringes dangling around the edges, and 
the latch was a heavily knitted loop which 
closed over a large cloth button. In the center, 
the initials R.S. were cross-stitched in thick 
yarn. The needle-point design on the lid was a 
detailed reproduction of their home. Between 
elaborate frills and lace trims were stitched the 
names of Estelle, Rose and Root Sampson on 
three sides. On the back a large, beautiful rose 
was embroidered. Its most striking aspect, 
however, was that all the needlework was done 
entirely in brilliant deep red and heavy black. 
From across the dim room, it looked like a huge 
black widow spider. 

Estelle placed it gently in her daughter's lap. 
While Rose was terrified of the monstrous box, 
she could appreciate the incredibly detailed work 
that had gone into it. She stared down at the 
gruesome gift with her arms held rigidly at her 
sides. It felt unbearably heavy on her thighs. 
When her mother told her to open the basket, 
Rose wasn't sure she could bring herself to lift 
the lid. When she did, she saw an incredible ar- 
ray of thread. Every color and shade imaginable 
was arranged in a carefully layered circle around 
a center filled with pins, needles, buttons, 
thimbles, and other sewing notions. In a com- 
partment under the lid, was a measuring tape, 
seam ripper, hem gauge, and tracing paper. It 
was the most complete sewing kit Rose had ever 
seen. Her mother waited proudly. 

Rose hesitated for a moment. "But I don't sew, 

Estelle Sampson smiled sweetly. "No, not right 
now. But I'm sure someday you will." 

Rose felt a cool sweat spring out on her face. 
She got up to leave and thanked her mother 
with a brief kiss. She then escaped to her 
bedroom, holding the sewing basket away from 
her body as if it contained a nest of poisonous 

When her father loaded Rose's suitcases into 
the car, the sewing basket was left on the back 
seat. Estelle would not accompany them to the 
bus station, or even walk to the car with her 
daughter. When it was time to leave, Rose found 
her mother in the sewing room, running rods 
through the new curtains, 
bye mom. 

Without looking up, Estelle said, "Goodbye, 
dear. What time will you be home?" 

Rose thought for a moment, "Soon mother, 


very soon. 

She left the house quickly and found her 
father leaning against the car, watching a 
neighbor's black cat trying to negotiate her way 
through the underbrush of red threads in the 
rose garden. Rose showed her a way out of the 
tangle, then returned to the car to leave. 

At the station, Root helped to load her suit- 
cases onto the bus, then handed Rose the sewing 
basket. He put his arm around her and guided 
her to the door. "Don't worry about your 
mother. She'll come to terms with it sooner or 

Rose wanted to believe him, but felt depressed 
and doubtful. After a long hug, she boarded the 
bus and smiled gratefully at her father as they 
pulled out of the station. 

The bus was half-empty and Rose chose a win- 
dow seat at the back. The sewing basket sat 
beside her, an ominous prophecy written all over 
it. She concentrated on the scenery and tried to 
ignore the basket, but it seemed to nudge her 
with its red and black signals. About two hours 
out of town, when most passengers had dozed 
off, and the highway was an empty stretch 
ahead and behind, Rose gently lowered her win- 
dow. She picked up the sewing basket and quiet- 
ly thrust it out. She looked back just once to see 
it shatter open, spools of thread scattering over 
the highway like dozens of brightly colored 
spiders escaping from a black cocoon. 

Ms. Bailey is a freelance writer in Hanover, New Hampshire. 
This story won the Lockwood Fiction contest at Dartmouth in 




by Julia Stein 
West End Press 

by Sesshu Foster 

After the second or third reading the footnotes 
no longer seemed distractions, but perhaps that 
was because by then I had learned something. I 
no longer wished them to add up at the end of 
the book to a Yiddish glossary. I didn't really 
care, finally. The revelation of the strength in 
Jewish culture Stein extracts from these words 
(as foreign as that culture is to me) continued to 
grow through each reading and for that I was 

I was grateful as well to be instructed in the 
other sources of strength in these poems: the 
woman as granddaughter to women in struggle, 
the woman as daughter to a persecuted people, 
the woman as a woman herself. I believe we 
need instruction in such sources of strength 
these days, and that this slim volume of fine 
poems does so is an accomplishment of benefit 
for us all. (Might I say this as male in a male-run 
society, son of racially oppressed people, father 
to a daughter.) Anyway, the footnotes did help 
me understand. 

Stein tells me by phone that she can no longer 
write about her grandmother. And I can unders- 
tand why people would continue to ask her for 
more such poems. What Stein reveals for us of 
these women is precious enough: and who were 


in the shtetl 

you were Malke 

queen. . . 

in America 

your parents sent you 

into the factory 


—Her grandmother from the shtetl Shidrin, 
Russia, who sang anti-Czarist songs before the 
ten days that shook the world. (Shtetl: a word 
undefined for me except through context and 
what I have come across in the great short 
stories of village ghetto and revolutionary war by 
Isaac Babel.) When these women journeyed to 
the New World they entered a new world of 
struggle. Cultural adaptations in defense against 
Czarist pogrom and racial discrimination gave 
way to struggle against entirely new, different 

I celebrate my grandmothers, 
greenhorns, fresh from the shtetl, 
dreamers, firebrands, rebels 
who refused to be cheap fodder 
for the ravenous garment industry. . . 

I celebrate my grandmothers, 

the twenty thousand strikers of 1909 

who when attacked by mobsters and whores 

stood fast on the picket lines, 

after their faces ran with blood 

("Unzere Vundebare, Farbrente Meydlekh") 

In celebration she tells their story, in part "in 
her (grandmother's) own language, Yiddish," 
sometimes through their own accounts and her 
personal observations. It was a life "untying 
knotted string/with my union card, my penny 
bank, my tea kettle on the stove/whistling." 
(Sorry, old man, but your poem "Grandfather" 
appears simply another footnote in this women's 
album.) And when such a life ends in a hospital 
in Reseda, California, odds are its epic quality 
would have long since been lost in assimilation, 
downtrodden in suburban quotidiana. Like so 
many others, it would have been so, but for the 
bright eyed, assimilated North American grand- 
daughter who chooses (not chose, not singularly, 
but over time: chooses — comes to choose) to tell 
the story: and who was she? 

I was the girl who loved 
my soldier uncle in Korea. 
My best gifts came from the war: 
a furry white teddy bear. . . 
I wanted to marry a soldier 
when I grew up. 

("When I Grew Up") 

But as the girl's consciousness matures and she 
grasps the vitality of her grandmother's struggle, 
one long denied and denied still by the domi- 
nant Anglo culture (or anti-culture), she grasps a 
heritage vital to her personal survival: as a 
woman, too, and a worker, too (though this last 
term is not fleshed out), and if not a religious 
Jew, at least one respectful of people persecuted 
and fighting for their common life: 

My parents never spoke of the Holocaust. 
When I read Anne Frank's diary as a child 
she was the first Jewish girl I read about. 
She had brown hair and brown eyes like me. 
She loved books like me. 

("Kaddish: For Anne Frank") 

And in learning such facts in a culture that 
would deny them the specificity necessary to 
their reality, (this New World of fast food, 
disposable commodities, sit-com TV, and 


transnational corporations,) Stein learns from 
these women of the Old World something essen- 
tial: that she, too, has a history. A history that 
has become real for her through them, that she 
may understand its specificity and their necessi- 
ty. Just why they were that way. They give her a 
history and therefore something of a future, too. 
She acknowledges the horror in history: "women 
with scalped heads, /tuberculosis corpses,/ 
children with crushed hands." 

But her grandmothers are survivors, and 
through the survivors she learns the human side 
of history: that at bottom it is made by people 
like her grandmothers. This truth ("my grand- 
mother survived. . .she taught me the truth") 
marks out her place in the world and its chang- 
ing offers her a part to play, as the person she 
has now more fully become: 

And Yom ha Shoa, a day of remembering, 

I put on a black arm band, 

walked into an auditorium full of Jews 

remembering two thousand Germans walked 

for Anne Frank from Hamburg to Bergen- 

Belsen on her death-day remembering, 

a girl over her schoolbooks is sacred, 

a girl walking with her sweetheart is sacred, 

a cup of coffee is sacred, 

sugar, zwieback, a tin of sardines is sacred, 

as I watched six survivors at the front table 

light the cangles, 

one for each million, 

one, two, three, four, five, six. 

("Six Candles," from "Kaddish: For Anne 


And then of course beyond the 
Weltanschauung, or better said, through the 
coming of age, Stein — the girl who was Jewish 
like Anne Frank — is a North American woman. 
So: poems on an abortion in Juarez, on Rosaura 
Jimenez, "the first woman to die after Congress 
cut off legal assistance to poor women to get 
abortions," on relationships with men (though 
not specifically on the men themselves), and, 
finally, an "Ode to Women Poets" modeled after 

I met her singing 

among the cornstalks, 


love affairs. . . 

telling of the pains 

in childbirth, 


the sweatshop girl's 

death by fire 

or the ghastly nights 

of rape. 

They, women, 

blues singers, 

poor among the poor, 


on the strength of their songs 

the human smile, 

they told of the millwomen's 


and the Hindu widow's 

implacable fate. . . 


you are 

the keepers, 

the weavers 

of poetry, 

humbly proud 

across history. . . 

This is the first book by a vibrant young voice. 
While it admirably offers the rich heritage of our 
commonly shared history of labor struggle and 
the special role played by Jewish women of her 
immigrant grandmother's generation, the 
necessary particulars of the contemporary situa- 
tion in which Stein lives as a North American 
woman are not so clearly depicted. Equally 
vague, then, is her personal response to the 
specifics of hV" world. 

She poses her own situation either in terms sex- 
ually derived ("It Starts," "Tell Me About Mex- 
ico,") or derived from common acquaintance 
with Jewish (religious) culture. In admitted self- 
criticism of the book, Stein told me: "Too many 
angels." That's a quite accurate, if not very ex- 
tensive description. Somehow the class struggle 
content which was all important to her grand- 
mothers and the personal/historical detail of the 
poems devoted to them remains unavailable 
when the poet is speaking about herself. In the 
title poem or poems such as "Lilith," 
mythological symbols or sexual terms may be in- 
tegrated skillfully enough, but gone are the con- 
crete human and historical details painting the 
epic background upon which her grandmothers 
emerge in their full stature, heroic, as exemplary 
human beings. 

It seems as if Stein has not familiarized herself in 
the first person singular with the complete terms 
of her own experience. Of course she is no 
grandmother and certainly theirs was the voice 
of age, of the elders, of all such experience she 
herself has not had the chance to live. She will 
necessarily not even live like them, relive those 
lives, for those times are gone. And the grand- 
mothers too are gone. But we have Stein and 
Under the Ladder to Heaven convinces me 
she will be generous with us. It's likely she will 
yet offer us thematic integration and correspon- 
ding formal development in new poems which 
shall further instruct us in her own continuing 
sources of strength. 




by Naomi Shepherd 
Pantheon Books 

by Ursula Sklan 

This book, first published in England, is sub- 
titled: "Wilfrid Israel and the Rescue of the 
Jews." It is the hitherto untold story of the man 
Albert Einstein called "one of the most noble in- 
dividuals I have personally known." 

Who was Wilfrid Israel? Greatgrandson of 
Nathan Marcus Adler, the Chief Rabbi of Great 
Britain in 1845; he was son of Berthold Israel, 
third generation German Jewish department 
store owner, and Amy Solomon; native of 
England; millionnaire; a sculptor by avocation. 
He was an incessant philanthropist who gave the 
commander of one of the infamous concentra- 
tion camps unlimited credit at N. Israel each 
time a Jew was set free. 

Among his contacts in his rescue work during 
the Nazi era was Laura Livingstone, a Quaker 
and sister-in-law of the Bishop of Chichester. 
Naomi Shepherd describes Miss Livingstone as 
"a representative of the International Christian 
Committee for German Refugees, who was a 
woman of splendid eccentricity, with the courage 
of a Victorian explorer." Apparently, after 
World War I, she kept goats to whom she gave 
Greek names and had a cat called "Agrippina." 
Wilfrid Israel and his assistant, Arnold Horwitz, 
briefed Laura Livingstone during her rescue mis- 
sion of "non-aryan Christians" in Berlin in 1937. 
The American ambassador, W. Dodd, did not 
support her, nor did the British Embassy in 
Berlin allow her to use the diplomatic bag. 
Naomi Shepherd reports that this somewhat frail 
Quaker lady confronted masskiller Eichmann 
over exit permits for her clients with complete 

Wilfrid Israel's enthusiasm for pacifism, inter- 
nationalism and socialism dated back to the end 
of World War I when he was 19 years old. His 
family's inclination toward the conservative 
Jewish upper middleclass was in conflict with 
Wilfrid's ideas. But his broadminded generosity 
did not allow a break with his family and he 
was gradually eased into the family business. 
After the armistice of November 11, 1918, when 
the Allied blockade of Germany caused children 
to beg for milk on the bridges across the Rhine, 
Wilfrid Israel joined a group of English Quakers 
and Berlin Red Cross workers to supervise the 
release and welfare of interned civilians in both 
countries. An outstanding woman in this work 
was a Swiss-Jewish Quaker, Dr. Elisabeth Rot- 

ten. Educated in Cambridge and Germany, she 
taught education and psychology in Berlin. 
Under her guidance, the Inter-Allied Food 
Council in Paris were able to supply powdered 
milk to babies in Germany. As to other food 
supplies, the Quakers' emergency efforts in 
England and Germany came upon bureaucratic 
obstruction. First, the Quakers were called "hun- 
coddlers" and then the Home Secretary was 
asked in Parliament whether he sanctioned the 
"appeal for clothing, food and luxuries." Though 
Paris had issued the permit to move supplies to 
Germany, the War Trades Department would 
not issue the required export license until the 
Archbishop of Canterbury and Prime Minister 
Lloyd George intervened and the food con- 
signments were sent to their destination. 

According to this book, a very interesting inci- 
dent happened on the day the Revolution in 
Germany was proclaimed— November 9, 1918. 
As the gates of the Ruhleben British internment 
camp in Germany opened, a stencilled document 
was handed to each of the internees saying: 
"Gentlemen, in this historic moment, when you 
are regaining your freedom. . .we are asking you 
to take these lines with you to England to let 
them be known to your countrymen. You are 
witnesses of the Revolution, the first ones to 
leave our country after it. . .it took four years of 
endless privations and sufferings to make our 


people realize that they had been illguided and 
misled." The document continued that it was 
not intended to replace the old autocracy by a 
new one; it also asked the freed internees to stop 
the British blockade to starving post-war Ger- 

Among those leaving Ruhleben on that day 
was Tom Marshall, a young Englishman who 
had spent four years in the camp. He was 
disturbed by the above-mentioned document 
because it indicated to him a frightening feature 
of the German character — the ability to make a 
complete turnaround of loyalty from one day to 
the next, each loyalty at the time taking ab- 
solute hold of him/her to the point of blind obe- 
dience. Tom Marshall, during World War II, 
became the British Foreign Office head of 
research on Germany under the auspices of the 
Royal Institute for International Affairs at Balliol 
College in Oxford. In 1941, Wilfrid Israel 
became the advisor of Tom Marshall. 

Sensing the doom of the German Jews, Wilfrid 
settled 10,000 children and placed them in 
children's villages in England and Palestine. The 
German government at that time was still anx- 
ious to get the Jews out and gave them exit per- 
mits willingly. The problem was to get in 
somewhere. America remained silent, although 
Wilfrid Israel had suggested to Joseph Kennedy, 
American ambassador to England, to allot un- 
used places from the British quota to German 
refugees. The ambassador brought this sugges- 
tion to the attention of the State Department, 
whose first reaction was that "legislation was 
needed to divert the increased portion of the 
German quota to German Jews." Though the 
proposal was not withdrawn, according to 
Naomi Shepherd, either British Ambassador 
Lindsay, or American Secretary of State Sumner 
Wells, or both, sabotaged the plan on the 
grounds that President Roosevelt feared that a 
large influx of Jews might increase antisemitism 
in America. 

At that same time, 1941, when the oceans 
were mined and the gates of the wartime world 
were closed, Wilfrid Israel predicted that the 
"final solution" for the Jews of Europe was slave 
labor or death. He brought his prediction to the 
attention of the British government, and accor- 
ding to documents found by the author of this 
book, orders were given to the Royal Airforce to 
bomb the extermination camps; only later, it 
was discovered that these orders were disobeyed 
with the excuse that the camps were not con- 
sidered "a priority target." 

When the opportunity arose, late in 1941, for 
Wilfrid to become involved in postwar planning 
on the government level, Tom Marshall (the 
former internee at Ruhleben internment camp) 

asked him to use his extensive knowledge of 
Germany for research conducted by the Royal 
Institute of International Affairs. 

In the winter of 1943, a small ray of hope 
arose with the granting by the British Govern- 
ment of 200 certificates to Palestine to refugees 
in Spain and Portugal. Wilfrid Israel was given 
the task to go to Portugal and select 200 from 
among the thousands of refugees who were 
lingering in prisons and camps in the Iberian 
Peninsula. Lisbon at that time teamed with "In- 
telligence" agents; everything was bugged and 
everyone was followed. Apparently, according to 
documents, Wilfrid was on their lists as a British 
spy. However, he moved freely and sent his 
messages concerning the progress of his work to 
England and Israel. 

Naomi Shepherd, with amazing thoroughness, 
unearthed documents describing Wilfrid's 
desperate struggle to save the destitute Jews of 
Germany, whose ability to make a living had 
been gradually cutoff with the implementation of 
the infamous Nurenberg Laws. By December 31, 
1938, all Jews had to evacuate their homes. All 
public places, like swimming pools, ice skating 
rinks, cinemas, restaurants, clubs had signs 
"Juden Verboten" (Jews forbidden). The writer 
recalls how as a child she developed an uncanny 
ability to find loopholes, some not without 
danger — like roads through the woods where one 
could ride a bicycle in the summer and ski in 
the winter. She was also able to find the one 
cafe on the Kurfuerstendamm, the entertainment 
boulevard, that had forgotten to put up the 
notorious sign and so she was able to spend 
New Year's Eve there with the Australian 
Quaker, a constitutional lawyer in London, 
Richard Latham, who was summoned to Berlin 
after the November 1938 pogrom to help and 
rescue Wilfrid Israel's 200 Jewish employees. 

I had a personal reason for reading Naomi 
Shepherd's book with exceptional interest. Mine 
was the great privilege to have been chosen by 
Wilfrid Israel, pre- World War II Berlin depart- 
ment store owner, to interpret between an 
Australian Quaker from London and the N. 
Israel Department Store's 200 Jewish employees 
so they could emigrate to England. My qualifica- 
tions: I was dismissed from school, being Jewish, 
and I spoke English as well as wrote it. 

During the 3-4 years of preparation for this 
book, the author contacted me at least 15 times 
by letter from Israel or England. Naomi 
Shepherd had discovered in Israeli and English 
archives a large number of documents bearing 
the initials WI:UB. She wrote to Agnes 
Schneider, former U.S. Consul General to Paris 
and wartime U.S. Consulate official in London, 
asking her for the identity of "UB." Agnes, a 


good friend of mine who is now 94 and living in 
New York, referred her to me, for "UB" stands 
for "Ursula Borchard," my maiden name. I thus 
am listed in the author's acknowledgements with 
officials of the Royal Institute for International 
Affairs, professors in Oxford and Jerusalem, 
former N.I. employees, friends of Wilfrid Israel, 
and colleagues in the rescue mission of 10,000 
children which was completed in the early days 
of World War II and before it was too late. 

I myself arrived in London just before the out- 
break of World War II and, after one year, I was 
asked by Wilfrid to work with him again, 
although I was still of an age when girls usually 
struggle with or enjoy their schoolwork. Mine 
was enjoyment of a different kind. In the confu- 
sion of buzzing bombs, food rations, gasmasks, 
air-raid sirens and shelters, with death waiting 
around the corner, I had the privilege of being 
in the presence of a very unusual person. 
Charisma in the extreme, very well-informed in 
many areas though not scholarly, very hand- 
some and interesting, with an obsessive drive to 
save lives, he confronted me all the time. I 
received one of his last letters from Lisbon, in 
which he asked me to "be considerate" upon his 
return because he was rather "shorttempered." 
Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to prove 
that I of course would be considerate because 
the civilian plane he took on June 1, 1943, 
together with Leslie Howard, was shot down 
over the Bay of Biscay and disappeared without 
a trace. 



Edited by Karen Payne 
Houghton Mifflin Co. 

by Carolyn Carmichael 

Between Ourselves 

Letters Between Mothers & Daughters 

Edited by Karen Payne 

This volume of letters, at first sight daunting 
in its length, will have a horrid fascination for 
every daughter and perhaps every mother of a 
daughter. One reads on and on in spite of an in- 
tention to dip in here and there. The intent of 
the editor is avowedly feminist, the selection 
predominantly contemporary (middle and late 
20th century) and wisely presented with a 
minimum of interpretation and enough 
biographical material for context. Not surprising- 
ly, virtually all the letters originated in periods 
of crisis when daughters were attempting to 
assert their independence and individuality in 
matters of career choice, choice of husband 
or— more often— the choice of living with a man 
without marriage, choice of lesbianism, or the 
choice of having or not having children. 

The single entry from the eighteenth century 
is a refreshingly cool letter from Lady Mary 

Wortley Montagu to her daughter, who is 
presumed to have preferred to be a good wife, 
advocating that she permit her own daughter to 
pursue as much learning as she had "passion" 
for since wide reading "will furnish her with 
materials to pass away cheerfully a longer life 
than is allotted to mortals." Since marriage is a 
lottery in which there are at least "ten thousand 
blanks to a prize it is the most prudent choice 
not to venture." Lady Mary herself ventured 
and absconded as did a number of English 
women in the nineteenth century who, armed 
with aristocratic assurance and money, simply 
took off. In the nineteenth century section we 
have letters from an array of writers and social 
activists: George Sand, Susan B. Anthony, Olive 
Schreiner, etc.; and, outside any categories, 
Queen Victoria and Calamity Jane. Except for 
these last two, who probably felt more revulsion 
than revolt, the reasons for opposition to con- 
vention were the familiar desire for an expanded 
life and accomplishment outside the home, a 
struggle sometimes more abetted by the father 
than the mother. Neurotic illness could be a 
weapon as Florence Nightingale, and perhaps 
Elizabeth Barrett, used it. Among writers not 
overtly feminist, and not included here, Jane 
Austen remained unmarried, the Brontes and 
George Eliot lost their mothers early. They pur- 
sued their ambitions without attempting social 
justification, though there was— with the Brontes 
and Louisa May Alcott— also an economic 
motive. Whatever the case, every mother- 
daughter relationship is different from every 
other. The only general statement to make 
about the early letters is that they are much 
more guarded than the recent ones. There is 
very little expression of outright anger (except 
when George Sand writes to her daughter) and 
expressions of love tend to sound formal. 

Advancing into the twentieth century the tone 
gradually changes, expectedly, with much more 
conscious feminism and much greater freedom in 
the expression of emotion. Sexual freedom ex- 
panded and intensified the conflict. It surprised 
me to see the extraordinary length of many of 
these letters; we now live in an age when people 
don't write— they phone at great length. In 
many instances it is clear that direct speech has 
failed and the need for understanding, support, 
love is so great as to drive the writer to painful 
and often eloquent pleas. Sometimes the letters 
were not sent, were really written in an attempt 
to sort out harsh feelings for oneself. Often 
enough there is no withholding of outbursts of 
rage, denunciation, recrimination for real or im- 
agined lack of understanding and love. In the 


last few decades especially the insistant declara- 
tions of love of daughter for mother, and de- 
mand for assurances of love from the mother, 
give one to think. For some of these young 
women the wish to live differently from the 
mother is feared as a denial of the mother, 
which is intolerable for the guilt it arouses and 
the possible alienation of the mother who is 
emotionally still needed. And sometimes the 
alienation does occur. The social climate of these 
days puts great strain on this relationship. 

Except for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu there 
is no word from grandmothers in this book: I 
know some who have accepted the "lifestyle" 
changes willingly (if sometimes bemusedly) hav- 
ing themselves initiated some, but who cannot 
approve putting babies in child care facilities to 
get back to career as quickly as possible. Not 
good for mothers or infants, they feel — though 
they keep quiet about it. Will these children 
some day write letters imploring emotional sup- 
port or will they not need to? Or will they have 
no expectation of receiving it? In The Mermaid 
and The Minataur Dorothy Dinnerstein writes, 
"woman, who introduced us to the human situa- 
tion and who at the beginning seemed to us 
responsible for every drawback of that situation, 
carries for all of us a pre-rational onus oi 
ultimately culpable responsibility forever. And 
this incomparable onus. . .is usually buried, but 
it is buried alive. It exists as an inarticulate 
source — the most profound source I believe — of 
that refusal to accept things the way they are." 
Remedies have been suggested: sharing child care 
with the father or extended family which might 
reduce "culpability" by spreading it out. 
Presumably the beneficent aspects of the in- 
troduction to the human situation by the 
mother— infant bonding, the emotional and 
physical security that permits growth, 
etc. — would then also spread out by dilution. 
Beneficence may also be buried alive it seems. 
What so many of these letters cry out for is un- 
conditional love from the mother, a child's need, 
not always outgrown. Resolution of the conflict, 
when and if it comes, is often the result of the 
maturity of the daughter who comes to see her 
mother as a person, fallible, living as best she 
can in a world she didn't make either. 

There is, of course, a wide spectrum of 
challenge and response; sometimes there is great 
sympathy and empathy on both sides; sometimes 
mothers are helped by daughters to expand their 
horizons. Since this is a collection of letters it 
does not touch on those who had abandoned 
communication altogether or those who had en- 
joyed good communication all along and had no 
occasion to write about it. In her introduction 
the editor discusses her reasons for undertaking 

the arduous work of assembling this collection, 
her realization that very little is known about 
women-they are invisible in history — and "the 
saddest thing about it is how women have been 
deprived of a vital source of inspiration and self 
esteem— that sense of pride which comes from 
appreciating the experiences and achievements of 
ordinary people like oneself." In this review I 
have tended to focus on the letters themselves, 
the pain in the quandaries they explore. The 
pleasure and gratification in reading it is, I 
think, in the biographical sketches of the letter 

No doubt there will also be for many readers 
the pleasure of recognition, perhaps even of 
identification with the situation of one or 
another of the letter-writers. And the editor was 
right when she hoped that "the ways in which a 
woman might describe her life and her values to 
her mother or daughter would offer a richer and 
more complex portrait of womanhood and 



A N fl o u n C E s 




SEPTEMBER 26-27-28, 1985 


Jazz Artist Benny Golsen and Jazztets 

Jeffrey Rubinoff Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit 

Ribbon Project for Peace 

Sculptor Mary Miss Lecture 

'Works on and of Paper" Exhibit 

Community College Juried Art Competition 

David Cote & Caryl Dapogny Photography Exhibit 

Twin Rocker Inc. Paper Lecture /Demonstration 

The Paper Source "Use and Conservation 

of Paper" Lecture /Demonstration 

riathan Manilow Sculpture Park Tours 

Chanute Air Force Jazz Band 

Chinese Art Films 

Electronic Music Outdoor Concert & Demonstration 

Saxophone, Brass and Rhythm Clinics 

Marching Band Showcase 

QSU String Quartet Sunset Recital 

Music Faculty in Concert 

Folktale Telling 

Community Performing Artists 

Young Peoples' Concert 

Suzuki Violin Demonstration 


Gospel Sing 

Student Work in Video 

Drama Group Musical Review 

Contemporary Poets 

Sculpture Casting Demonstration 

Music Student Honors Recital 

On the grounds of Governors State University, University 
Parkway, University Park, IL. Picnicking permitted. For 
more information call 534-5000, Ext. 2461. 



The Creative Woman and the Office of Student Life present: 
Two Chinese films by Director Xie Jin 

a woman revolutionary and a poet 


three women of modern China, 

of three distinctly different types. 

FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS - GSU Sept. 27, 1985 
2:30 4:30 6:30 8:30 

Qm Jin 

The legend of Tianyun Mountain 



Fall 1985: Women of China. Madame 
Li, editor of the Chinese monthly Women of 
China, published in Beijing, will be guest 
editor of this special issue. Yu Ying of 
China International Travel Service, 
Hangzhou Branch, will coordinate the pro- 
duction. Readers are invited to submit book 
reviews, photographs, travel journals or 
other contributions on China for this 
special issue. Deadline: September 21, 1985 

Winter 1986: Healing Rituals. Suzanne 
Palmer, art therapist in Santa Rosa, Califor- 
nia, has chaired a symposium on this topic 
at Sonoma State University and will be 
guest editor. Healers and practitioners of art 
as ritual are invited to send articles, descrip- 
tions and illustrations of their work. 
Deadline: December 21, 1985 

Spring-Summer 1986: Flying. From 
Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride, women have 
distinguished themselves, despite great 
obstacles and impediments. Send poems, 
graphics, articles, fiction, profiles, inter- 
views, or book reviews to Joan Lewis, 2350 
Carriage Drive, Powell, Ohio 43065. 
Deadline: March 21, 1986 

Fall 1986: American Indian. Native 
American women held a position of 
authority in some tribes and their ideas of 
equality and representative government in- 
fluenced the writers of the United States 
Constitution. This issue will examine their 
history and celebrate their contributions to 
American culture, in art, in values and in 
ideas. Send material to Joan Lewis, 2350 
Carriage Drive, Powell, Ohio 43065. 
Deadline: June 21, 1986 

Wf OMIEN OF ■** s * 3 ^ 




PO BOX 1081 . NORTHAMPTON, MA 01061 . 413-586-8448 



The traits relegated to women as 
inferior and unworthy of men — e.g., 
nurturance , cooperation , receptivity , 
wholistic perspective, a regard for all of 
life and a vision of its inter connected- 
ness — are turning out to be the very 
qualities necessary for sustaining life on 
this planet. Ve believe that women's 
visions, reflected by their daily lives, 
offer the best hope for a life-giving 



Women's Values 
And the Fufure 

Annie Cheatham 
Mary Clare Powell 

Annie Cheatham and Mary Clare Powell, whose The Future is Female Project was reported in 
these pages in Vol. 6, No. 1 (Fall 1982) have now completed their two-year journey and written 
their book about it. This Way Daybreak Comes: Women's Values and the Future will be published by 
New Society Publishers, Fall 1985. 




News Bureau 

136 Crofts Hall 


August 13, 1985 

Helen E. Hughes, Editor: 
The Creative Woman 
Governors State University 
University Park, IL 60466-3193 

Dear Ms. Hughes: 

I picked up a copy of the Winter 1985 issue of The Creative 
Woman at the CASE conference in Washington last month and am 
writing to tell you how much I admired it. Of the publications I 
gathered, this one was the only one which I read cover-to-cover. 
How do you manage to maintain official university funding for a 
publication written from a strictly feminist perspective? This 
is truly a significant — if not miraculous — achievement in what is 
now being referred to as the post-feminist era. Congratulations! 

One of the letters to the editor piqued my curiousity about 
your Pall "Mother Goddess" issue. Is it possible to get a copy? 
I enclose a $10 check for donation/subscription. Please let me 
know if there is an extra charge for back issues. 

I look forward to receiving future copies. Please send them 
to my office address (News Bureau, 136 Crofts Hall, SUNYAB, 
Buffalo, N.Y. 14260) so I can share them with my (not "post") 
feminist colleagues. 



Linda Grace-Kobas 

Ida Borchard 


TELEPHONE: 427-0789 

Dear Ms. Hughes, 

I wanted to thank you for having a story about me and my work in your GREAT magazine The Creative 
Woman, amongst all the other Modern Dance Artists. 

My Mary Wigman System (with Isadora Duncan) in basic Dance Exercises and choreographed Dances brings 
Happiness to Body and Mind in all Age Groups. 

It is excellent for Lunchtime sessions, not like Aerobic, but fluid and expressive. 

Why don't you call me one day to make an appointment to see our work. 

Best regards, and Thanks Again 

Ida Borchard 

Modern Dance Studio 




Women Working HeaOSh, Cultures 

or Change: & Societies 


The National Women's Studies Association will hold its eighth annual 
convention June 11-15, 1986, at the University of Illinois at 
Urbana-Champaign . The theme of the convention is Women Working for Change: 
Health, Cultures and Societies. The convention will address the issues 
of women's health and status in societies throughout the world. 

The convention will place emphasis on programming related to the convention 
theme that addresses the values and issues of women of color, Third World 
women, Jewish women, students, poor and working class women, lesbians, 
and dif f erent ly-abled women. 

The deadlines for submission of proposals is October 1, 1985. Copies 
of the call for proposals and further information are available from: 

Jeann Rice and Paula Gray, Co-Coordinators 

NWSA 1986 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

304 Stiven House 

708 South Mathews 

Urbana, Illinois 61801 

The ANNOTATED GUIDE TO WOMEN'S PERIODICALS lists over 250 publications 
in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. Each publication 
is briefly reviewed by category and indexed by title and geographically. 
The ANNOTATED GUIDE is a 130 page, perfect bound booklet. Subscriptions 
are $12/ind. (2 issues), $20/inst. & libr. , $6. 50/ind. (single copy), 
$10/inst. Please make checks payable to the Annotated Guide. U.S. funds 
preferred. Order from: Annotated Guide, Bx. E-94, Earlham College, 
Richmond, IN 47374 







Music by 


Produced by 


Side A: Exploring Women's Heritage 

Side B: Living in Harmony 

(Adapted from HALLIE IGLEHART'S Womanspiric. 

A Guide to Women's Wisdom, Harper <Sl Row, 1983.) 

$10. Order from: 

Women in Spiritual Education (WISE) 
1130 Keeler Avenue, Dept. F 
Berkeley, California, U.S.A. 94708 




The Creative Hearth Organization 

97-77 Queens Boulevard, 

Forest Hills, New York 1 1374 




Gayle Niles & Douglas Snider 

A practical and readable guide written to 
demystify the law as it relates to those legal 
problems most often encountered by women: 

Dealing with Attorneys 


Child Custody and Support 

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination 


Battered Women 

Small Claims and Traffic Court 

Dealing with the Police 

Consumer Concerns 


and more 

$8.50 pa. 
ISBN 0-912869-04-6 


1127 Pennsylvania Denver, CO 80203 
(303) 837-8913 




Edited by Lyn Lifshin 
Beacon Press 

by Joan Lewis 

The voices are strident, loving. There is yearn- 
ing, pain, rage— all the emotions are accurately 
rendered to the sum total of mothering. The giv- 
ing and the getting of it. Tangled Vines brings 
together a distinguished assortment of poets, in- 
cluding Jong, Sexton, Rich, Kumin, and Plath, 
writing about their personal confrontations with 
this most fundamental and complex of relation- 
ships. They speak both as daughters and as the 
mothers of daughters. 

For many, motherhood is a grim ritual dance, 
a struggle for separateness that is never achieved: 
"We shared fur coats. /We hated each other as 
soul hates the body/for being weak, /as the mind 
hates the stomach/for needing food, /as one 
lover hates the other."— Erica Jong. 
Shirley Kaufman conveys the same anguish as 
she speaks of her adolescent child in "Mothers, 
Daughters." — "I can hear her breath/where I 
can't get in. If I break through to her, she will 
drive nails into my tongue." 

Other themes — birth, death, estrangement, ac- 
ceptance — are richly represented. Editor Lifshin 
comments on this diversity in her introduction. 
"The relationship between a mother and her 
daughter is as varied, as mysterious, as constant- 
ly changing and interconnected as the patterns 
that touch, move away from, and touch again in 
a kaleidoscope. It is the primary relationship bet- 
ween females and, for many women, the most 

In her selection of poems from more than forty 
poets, Lifshin confronts the mother myth head 
on, eshewing hearts and flowers for "the full 
range of feelings and emotions that exist bet- 
ween a mother and her daughter — the joys, the 
guilt, the anguish, the fears. . .a celebration of 
this relationship." 

As a subject, the mother-daughter relationship 
long has been given short shrift in literature, a 
lack only recently being addressed. Lifshin offers 
a powerfully moving glimpse into this intimate 
world. In a 1978 review of Tangled Vines, the 
Library journal called it a "landmark for women 
and for literature." I heartily agree — and recom- 
mend it highly — as a daughter, mother, woman 
as well as writer and editor. 






"Like those old pear shaped Russian dolls that 
open at the middle to reveal another and an- 
other, down to the peasized, irreducible 
minim, may we carry our mothers forth in our 

May we, borne onward by our daughters, ride 
in the Envelope of Almost Infinity, 
that chain letter good for the next twenty-five 
thousand days of their lives." 

"The Envelope," Maxine Kumin 




SING HEAVENLY MUSE!, Women's Poetry and Prose, seeks poetry, short fiction, 
and creative prose for a special issue of midwestern women writers. The issue 
will be Open Theme. SING HEAVENLY MUSE! encourages women to range 
freely, honestly, and imaginatively over all subjects, philosophies, and styles. 
The work does not necessarily need to reflect midwestern themes. 

Work will be accepted for consideration from writers living in the midwest 
between SEPTEMBER 1 and OCTOBER 10, 1985. Send manuscripts, with a 
self-addressed stamped return envelope, to SING HEAVENLY MUSE!, P.O. 
Box 13299, Minneapolis, MN 55414. 

ATTENTION WOMEN OF COLOR: A contest for women of color from the 
midwest is being sponsored in conjunction with this issue: first prize, $250; 
second prize, $100; honorable mention, $50— in two categories, poetry and 
fiction/creative prose. (Limit: 5 poems; 5,000 words, fiction/creative prose.) 
Contest winners will be published in this issue. All contest entries will be 
considered for publication. The contest judge will be a woman of color. 

*Residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, 
Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska 

Sing Heavenly Muse! was founded in 1977 to foster the work of women poets, fiction writers, and artists and 
to recognize women's diversity, intelligence, and talent, as well as their need to share perspectives. The journal is 
feminist in an open, generous sense: we encourage women to range freely, honestly, and imaginatively over all subjects, 
philosophies, and styles. We do not wish to confine women to "women's subjects," whether these are defined tradi- 
tionally, in terms of femininity and domesticity, or modernly, from a sometimes narrow polemical perspective. We 
look for explorations, questions that do not come with ready-made answers, emotionally or intellectually; and we 
welcome men's work that shows an awareness of women's consciousness. 

We try to reduce to a minimum the common bureaucratic distance between an editorial staff and its readers and 
contributors. Although our staff is small, when possible we encourage writers by discussing their work. We seek out 
new writers, many before unpublished, solicit comments from our readers, and provide in Sing Heavenly Muse! a 
place where women with widely varying interests and ideas may meet and share with one another. 

Sing Heavenly Muse! is thus a community in which all artists, writers, and readers are invited to participate. 


womens poetry anApwac 

P.O. Box 13299 Minneapolis, MN 55414 



WOMEN IN PRINT Third National Con- 
ference, Berkeley, California, May 19 - June 1 

Your editor was there, to give a workshop on 
Overcoming Obstacles to Creativity and to show 
slides on Women of China. We were editors, 
publishers, printers, booksellers, librarians, 
designers, writers and poets, sharing dormitory 
rooms and vegetarian meals, attending 
workshops on censorship and pornography, the 
crisis in feminist journalism, the ethics and 
politics of reviewing, starting a publishing com- 
pany, publishing translations, working with 
unions, staying solvent, and word processing 
secrets, among others. 

We examined the display tables with the myriad 
hardback and paperback volumes of poetry, 
autobiography and feminist studies, the 
newspapers, newsletters and magazines. We now 
have a few more subscribers and The Creative 
Woman is now available in a few more 
bookstores, due to our participation in this con- 
ference. The air was electric, the controversies 
sometimes bitter, the learning opportunities im- 
mense, and the conversation stimulating. The 
flavor of this conference is suggested by the 
variety of ads and announcements a few of 
which are reproduced here. Support our sisters 
in Print. 

Our readers may be particularly interested in a 
handsome new publication, Belles Lettres, which 
reviews books by women. For a free preview 
sample, drop a note to P.O. Box 987, Arlington, 
Virginia 22216 or call the editor at 

Justine Merritt 

Photo: David Cormuell 


Three years ago Justine Merritt got the idea 
while she was on a retreat, praying for guidance 
for her life. "It occurred to me," she says, "to tie 
a ribbon around the Pentagon. . .a symbol of 
peace encircling a symbol of war." The date 
would be August 4, 1985, the 40th anniversary 
of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She 
envisioned The Ribbon as segments of fabric 
sewn together, with each segment being a sym- 
bol of what we cannot bear to think of as lost 
forever in nuclear war. She thought she would 
need 2000 segments and 1000 people to help to 
hold the ribbon as it encircled the Pentagon. 

As we go to press, The Ribbon is on its way to 
Washington. Every state and dozens of countries 
around the world have participated. The Ribbon 
now is estimated to be ten miles long, enough to 
wrap the Pentagon, the Capitol and the White 
House. One hundred thousand people are ex- 
pected to participate in the demonstration. This 
is easily the most gigantic sewing event in 
human history. The banners will go home to 
become the focal icons of meetings and 
demonstrations at County Court Houses and 
State Capitols all over the country. Those of us 
at home will reflect once again: how one in- 
dividual, when joined by other individuals, can 
make a difference. 

The Peace Museum in Chicago, one of the early 
sponsors of the project, has participated in the 
publication of a beautiful commemorative 
volume— a catalog, essentially— titled The Ribbon, 
A Celebration of Life (Lark Books, Asheville, 
North Carolina). It is an inspiring and in- 
spiriting experience to go through this book at a 
single sitting. The images accumulate force, run 
together and merge into a passionate affirmation 
of life and the beauty of this Creation. It is the 
brilliant colors and the repeated lush images of 
children, trees, mountains, hearts, rainbows, 
plants, fish, animals, clouds, villages, birds, 
seashells, stars and deeply felt messages carefully 
embroidered onto the designs that create an 
overpowering impression. The final effect is, sur- 
prisingly, erotic, in the way that Marilyn French 
means in her recent encyclopedia book, Beyond 
Power, when she argues that feminist values pro- 
mote and enable play, freedom, equality and 

Linked to the theme of this issue of TCW ex- 
ploring the intergenerational threads that bind 
us is this plea embroidered around the four sides 
of a quilted banner: 

"Please let the children touch the quilts. Let my 
children and my grandchildren and my great- 


grandchildren feel the warmth and the comfort 
and the peace in a handmade quilt. Don't 
destroy our grandmothers' quilts. They are 
history allowing us to touch our past. Give our 
children a future to touch. Please." (Mimi 
Dietrich, Catonsville, Maryland) 

Sections of The Ribbon will be on display at 
Governors State University during the Festival 
of the Arts, September 26-27-28. 

By special arrangement with the publisher, we 
have acquired copies of The Ribbon, A Celebra- 
tion of Life for our readers: for a tax-deductible 
donation of $15 we'll mail you a copy, the 
royalties donated to The Ribbon project, the 
Peace Museum and The Creative Woman. Three 
good causes with one check! 


NYC, 1970, 25th. Anniversary of Hiroshima, Shumer 


Make checks payable to The Creative Woman/GS\J. 
Please send me The Creative Woman for one year. Enclosed is my check or money order for $ 

$ 7.00 regular subscription 

$ 9.00 foreign subscription 

$10.00 donation and automatic subscription 

$15.00 institutional subscription 

Return to: The Creative Woman 

Governors State University 
Park Forest South, IL 60466 







ff\,4 N~^